Nord Insuretech Group's (STO:NORDIG) Profits Appear To Have Quality Issues

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 06, 2021
OM:NORDIG
Source: Shutterstock

Nord Insuretech Group AB's (STO:NORDIG ) stock didn't jump after it announced some healthy earnings. We think that investors might be worried about some concerning underlying factors.

See our latest analysis for Nord Insuretech Group

earnings-and-revenue-history
OM:NORDIG Earnings and Revenue History September 7th 2021

Zooming In On Nord Insuretech Group'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. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".

Nord Insuretech Group has an accrual ratio of 8.41 for the year to June 2021. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of kr28m despite its profit of kr242.5m, mentioned above. Coming off the back of negative free cash flow last year, we imagine some shareholders might wonder if its cash burn of kr28m, this year, indicates high risk. Having said that, there is more to consider. We must also consider the impact of unusual items on statutory profit (and thus the accrual ratio), as well as note the ramifications of the company issuing new shares. The good news for shareholders is that Nord Insuretech Group's accrual ratio was much better last year, so this year's poor reading might simply be a case of a short term mismatch between profit and FCF. As a result, some shareholders may be looking for stronger cash conversion in the current year.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Nord Insuretech Group.

In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. As it happens, Nord Insuretech Group issued 175% more new shares over the last year. That means its earnings are split among a greater number of shares. To celebrate net income while ignoring dilution is like rejoicing because you have a single slice of a larger pizza, but ignoring the fact that the pizza is now cut into many more slices. You can see a chart of Nord Insuretech Group's EPS by clicking here.

How Is Dilution Impacting Nord Insuretech Group's Earnings Per Share? (EPS)

Nord Insuretech Group was losing money three years ago. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we don't have a meaningful growth rate because it made a loss a year ago, too. But mathematics aside, it is always good to see when a formerly unprofitable business come good (though we accept profit would have been higher if dilution had not been required). Therefore, one can observe that the dilution is having a fairly profound effect on shareholder returns.

In the long term, if Nord Insuretech Group's earnings per share can increase, then the share price should too. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. For the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical "share" of the company's profit.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Nord Insuretech Group's profit suffered from unusual items, which reduced profit by kr132m in the last twelve months. In the case where this was a non-cash charge it would have made it easier to have high cash conversion, so it's surprising that the accrual ratio tells a different story. 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. If Nord Insuretech Group doesn't see those unusual expenses repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to increase over the coming year.

Our Take On Nord Insuretech Group's Profit Performance

Summing up, Nord Insuretech Group's unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings were temporarily depressed, and its accrual ratio indicates a lack of free cash flow relative to profit. And the dilution means that per-share results are weaker than the bottom line might imply. Considering all this we'd argue Nord Insuretech Group's profits probably give an overly generous impression of its sustainable level of profitability. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. When we did our research, we found 5 warning signs for Nord Insuretech Group (3 shouldn't be ignored!) that we believe deserve your full attention.

Our examination of Nord Insuretech Group has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And, on that basis, we are somewhat skeptical. 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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