As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. This article will consider whether Apex Science & Engineering's (TPE:3052) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.
While Apex Science & Engineering was able to generate revenue of NT$8.78b in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of NT$521.5m was more important.
Of course, it is only sensible to look beyond the statutory profits and question how well those numbers represent the sustainable earnings power of the business. So today we'll examine what Apex Science & Engineering's cashflow and its expanding share count tell us about the nature of its profits. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Apex Science & Engineering.
Examining Cashflow Against Apex Science & Engineering'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 having an accrual ratio above zero is of little concern, we do think it's worth noting when a company has a relatively high accrual ratio. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.
For the year to September 2020, Apex Science & Engineering had an accrual ratio of -0.45. 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 NT$3.5b during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of NT$521.5m. Notably, Apex Science & Engineering had negative free cash flow last year, so the NT$3.5b it produced this year was a welcome improvement. Unfortunately for shareholders, the company has also been issuing new shares, diluting their share of future earnings.
In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. In fact, Apex Science & Engineering increased the number of shares on issue by 13% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. As a result, its net income is now split between a greater number of shares. Per share metrics like EPS help us understand how much actual shareholders are benefitting from the company's profits, while the net income level gives us a better view of the company's absolute size. Check out Apex Science & Engineering's historical EPS growth by clicking on this link.
How Is Dilution Impacting Apex Science & Engineering's Earnings Per Share? (EPS)
Unfortunately, we don't have any visibility into its profits three years back, because we lack the data. 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. What we do know is that while it's great to see a profit over the last twelve months, that profit would have been better, on a per share basis, if the company hadn't needed to issue shares. So you can see that the dilution has had a bit of an impact on shareholders. Therefore, the dilution is having a noteworthy influence on shareholder returns. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.
If Apex Science & Engineering's EPS can grow over time then that drastically improves the chances of the share price moving in the same direction. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. For that reason, you could say that EPS is more important that net income in the long run, assuming the goal is to assess whether a company's share price might grow.
Our Take On Apex Science & Engineering's Profit Performance
In conclusion, Apex Science & Engineering has a strong cashflow relative to earnings, which indicates good quality earnings, but the dilution means its earnings per share are dropping faster than its profit. Considering all the aforementioned, we'd venture that Apex Science & Engineering's profit result is a pretty good guide to its true profitability, albeit a bit on the conservative side. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 4 warning signs for Apex Science & Engineering you should know about.
Our examination of Apex Science & Engineering has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. 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. 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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