algoWatt (BIT:ALW) Is Posting Promising Earnings But The Good News Doesn’t Stop There

Published
April 28, 2022
BIT:ALW
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Shareholders appeared to be happy with algoWatt S.p.A.'s (BIT:ALW) solid earnings report last week. Looking deeper at the numbers, we found several encouraging factors beyond the headline profit numbers.

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earnings-and-revenue-history
BIT:ALW Earnings and Revenue History April 28th 2022

Examining Cashflow Against algoWatt's Earnings

As finance nerds would already know, the accrual ratio from cashflow is a key measure for assessing how well a company's free cash flow (FCF) matches its profit. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.

That means a negative accrual ratio is a good thing, because it shows that the company is bringing in more free cash flow than its profit would suggest. That is not intended to imply we should worry about a positive accrual ratio, but it's worth noting where the accrual ratio is rather high. Notably, there is some academic evidence that suggests that a high accrual ratio is a bad sign for near-term profits, generally speaking.

Over the twelve months to December 2021, algoWatt recorded an accrual ratio of 0.29. We can therefore deduce that its free cash flow fell well short of covering its statutory profit, suggesting we might want to think twice before putting a lot of weight on the latter. Even though it reported a profit of €8.52m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through €1.0m in the last year. Coming off the back of negative free cash flow last year, we imagine some shareholders might wonder if its cash burn of €1.0m, this year, indicates high risk. However, that's not all there is to consider. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part. The good news for shareholders is that algoWatt's accrual ratio was much better last year, so this year's poor reading might simply be a case of a short term mismatch between profit and FCF. As a result, some shareholders may be looking for stronger cash conversion in the current year.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of algoWatt.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

algoWatt's profit suffered from unusual items, which reduced profit by €3.4m in the last twelve months. In the case where this was a non-cash charge it would have made it easier to have high cash conversion, so it's surprising that the accrual ratio tells a different story. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. And, after all, that's exactly what the accounting terminology implies. In the twelve months to December 2021, algoWatt had a big unusual items expense. All else being equal, this would likely have the effect of making the statutory profit look worse than its underlying earnings power.

Our Take On algoWatt's Profit Performance

In conclusion, algoWatt's accrual ratio suggests that its statutory earnings are not backed by cash flow, even though unusual items weighed on profit. Based on these factors, we think that algoWatt's profits are a reasonably conservative guide to its underlying profitability. In light of this, if you'd like to do more analysis on the company, it's vital to be informed of the risks involved. For instance, we've identified 4 warning signs for algoWatt (2 are concerning) you should be familiar with.

Our examination of algoWatt has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. For example, many people consider a high return on equity as an indication of favorable business economics, while others like to 'follow the money' and search out stocks that insiders are buying. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.

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