Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. However, sometimes companies receive a one-off boost (or reduction) to their profit, and it's not always clear whether statutory profits are a good guide, going forward. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing Newag (WSE:NWG).
It's good to see that over the last twelve months Newag made a profit of zł168.6m on revenue of zł1.16b. One positive is that it has grown both its profit and its revenue, over the last few years.
Importantly, statutory profits are not always the best tool for understanding a company's true earnings power, so it's well worth examining profits in a little more detail. As a result, we think it's well worth considering what Newag's cashflow (when compared to its earnings) can tell us about the nature of its statutory profit. 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.
Zooming In On Newag's Earnings
Many investors haven't heard of the accrual ratio from cashflow, but it is actually a useful measure of how well a company's profit is backed up by free cash flow (FCF) during a given period. 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. 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. 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. 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 September 2020, Newag recorded an accrual ratio of 0.21. 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 zł30m despite its profit of zł168.6m, mentioned above. Coming off the back of negative free cash flow last year, we imagine some shareholders might wonder if its cash burn of zł30m, this year, indicates high risk.
Our Take On Newag's Profit Performance
Newag didn't convert much of its profit to free cash flow in the last year, which some investors may consider rather suboptimal. Because of this, we think that it may be that Newag's statutory profits are better than its underlying earnings power. But on the bright side, its earnings per share have grown at an extremely impressive rate 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. If you'd like to know more about Newag as a business, it's important to be aware of any risks it's facing. Be aware that Newag is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis and 3 of those are concerning...
Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Newag's profit. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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