Telecom Italia (BIT:TIT) Strong Profits May Be Masking Some Underlying Issues

August 02, 2021
  •  Updated
August 07, 2022
BIT:TIT
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The recent earnings posted by Telecom Italia S.p.A. (BIT:TIT) were solid, but the stock didn't move as much as we expected. However the statutory profit number doesn't tell the whole story, and we have found some factors which might be of concern to shareholders.

See our latest analysis for Telecom Italia

earnings-and-revenue-history
BIT:TIT Earnings and Revenue History August 3rd 2021

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

To properly understand Telecom Italia's profit results, we need to consider the €650m expense attributed to unusual items. It's never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. 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. Assuming those unusual expenses don't come up again, we'd therefore expect Telecom Italia to produce a higher profit next year, all else being equal.

That might leave you wondering what analysts are forecasting in terms of future profitability. Luckily, you can click here to see an interactive graph depicting future profitability, based on their estimates.

An Unusual Tax Situation

Just as we noted the unusual items, we must inform you that Telecom Italia received a tax benefit which contributed €6.1b to the bottom line. This is meaningful because companies usually pay tax rather than receive tax benefits. The receipt of a tax benefit is obviously a good thing, on its own. However, the devil in the detail is that these kind of benefits only impact in the year they are booked, and are often one-off in nature. In the likely event the tax benefit is not repeated, we'd expect to see its statutory profit levels drop, at least in the absence of strong growth. So while we think it's great to receive a tax benefit, it does tend to imply an increased risk that the statutory profit overstates the sustainable earnings power of the business.

Our Take On Telecom Italia's Profit Performance

In its last report Telecom Italia received a tax benefit which might make its profit look better than it really is on a underlying level. Having said that, it also had a unusual item reducing its profit. Having considered these factors, we don't think Telecom Italia's statutory profits give an overly harsh view of the business. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. To that end, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with Telecom Italia (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored).

In this article we've looked at a number of factors that can impair the utility of profit numbers, as a guide to a business. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. Some people consider a high return on equity to be a good sign of a quality business. 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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