Stock Analysis

South Port New Zealand's (NZSE:SPN) Earnings Are Weaker Than They Seem

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NZSE:SPN
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South Port New Zealand Limited's (NZSE:SPN) robust earnings report didn't manage to move the market for its stock. Our analysis suggests that this might be because shareholders have noticed some concerning underlying factors.

See our latest analysis for South Port New Zealand

earnings-and-revenue-history
NZSE:SPN Earnings and Revenue History September 1st 2022

Zooming In On South Port New Zealand'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. To get the accrual ratio we first subtract FCF from profit for a period, and then divide that number by the average operating assets for the period. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.

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. While it's not a problem to have a positive accrual ratio, indicating a certain level of non-cash profits, a high accrual ratio is arguably a bad thing, because it indicates paper profits are not matched by cash flow. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".

Over the twelve months to June 2022, South Port New Zealand recorded an accrual ratio of 0.33. Unfortunately, that means its free cash flow was a lot less than its statutory profit, which makes us doubt the utility of profit as a guide. Even though it reported a profit of NZ$12.8m, a look at free cash flow indicates it actually burnt through NZ$9.7m in the last year. It's worth noting that South Port New Zealand generated positive FCF of NZ$4.7m a year ago, so at least they've done it in the past.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of South Port New Zealand.

Our Take On South Port New Zealand's Profit Performance

As we have made quite clear, we're a bit worried that South Port New Zealand didn't back up the last year's profit with free cashflow. As a result, we think it may well be the case that South Port New Zealand's underlying earnings power is lower than its statutory profit. Nonetheless, it's still worth noting that its earnings per share have grown at 31% over the last three years. At the end of the day, it's essential to consider more than just the factors above, if you want to understand the company properly. 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. Case in point: We've spotted 3 warning signs for South Port New Zealand you should be mindful of and 1 of these is potentially serious.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of South Port New Zealand's profit. 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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether South Port New Zealand is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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About NZSE:SPN

South Port New Zealand

South Port New Zealand Limited provides and manages port and warehousing services in New Zealand.

The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.

Analysis AreaScore (0-6)
Valuation1
Future Growth0
Past Performance5
Financial Health3
Dividends4

Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.

Solid track record average dividend payer.