FERRO S.A.'s (WSE:FRO) recent weak earnings report didn't cause a big stock movement. Our analysis suggests that along with soft profit numbers, investors should be aware of some other underlying weaknesses in the numbers.
A Closer Look At FERRO'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. The accrual ratio subtracts the FCF from the profit for a given period, and divides the result by the average operating assets of the company over that time. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.
Therefore, it's actually considered a good thing when a company has a negative accrual ratio, but a bad thing if its accrual ratio is positive. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.
Over the twelve months to June 2022, FERRO recorded an accrual ratio of 0.26. Therefore, we know that it's free cashflow was significantly lower than its statutory profit, which is hardly a good thing. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of zł52m despite its profit of zł72.2m, mentioned above. We saw that FCF was zł76m a year ago though, so FERRO has at least been able to generate positive FCF in the past.
Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of FERRO.
Our Take On FERRO's Profit Performance
FERRO didn't convert much of its profit to free cash flow in the last year, which some investors may consider rather suboptimal. Therefore, it seems possible to us that FERRO's true underlying earnings power is actually less than its statutory profit. But on the bright side, its earnings per share have grown at an extremely impressive rate over the last three years. Of course, we've only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. When we did our research, we found 4 warning signs for FERRO (1 is a bit concerning!) that we believe deserve your full attention.
Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of FERRO'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. While it might take a little research on your behalf, you may find this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying to be useful.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.