The market seemed underwhelmed by last week's earnings announcement from CDRL S.A. (WSE:CDL) despite the healthy numbers. We did some digging, and we think that investors are missing some encouraging factors in the underlying numbers.
A Closer Look At CDRL's Earnings
In high finance, the key ratio used to measure how well a company converts reported profits into free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio (from cashflow). In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.
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. 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 2021, CDRL recorded an accrual ratio of -0.53. That implies it has very good cash conversion, and that its earnings in the last year actually significantly understate its free cash flow. To wit, it produced free cash flow of zł66m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of zł7.83m. CDRL's year-on-year free cash flow was as flat as two-day-old fizzy drink. Having said that, there is more to the story. We can see that unusual items have impacted its statutory profit, and therefore the accrual ratio.
Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of CDRL.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
CDRL's profit was reduced by unusual items worth zł23m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. In a scenario where those unusual items included non-cash charges, we'd expect to see a strong accrual ratio, which is exactly what has happened in this case. It's never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. We looked at thousands of listed companies and found that unusual items are very often one-off in nature. And that's hardly a surprise given these line items are considered unusual. In the twelve months to September 2021, CDRL had a big unusual items expense. As a result, we can surmise that the unusual items made its statutory profit significantly weaker than it would otherwise be.
Our Take On CDRL's Profit Performance
In conclusion, both CDRL's accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Based on these factors, we think CDRL's underlying earnings potential is as good as, or probably even better, than the statutory profit makes it seem! 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 example, CDRL has 5 warning signs (and 1 which shouldn't be ignored) we think you should know about.
Our examination of CDRL has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. 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.
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.
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