We Think Dorman Products's (NASDAQ:DORM) Statutory Profit Might Understate Its Earnings Potential

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 13, 2021

It might be old fashioned, but we really like to invest in companies that make a profit, each and every year. Having said that, sometimes statutory profit levels are not a good guide to ongoing profitability, because some short term one-off factor has impacted profit levels. This article will consider whether Dorman Products' (NASDAQ:DORM) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

It's good to see that over the last twelve months Dorman Products made a profit of US$88.5m on revenue of US$1.03b. As you can see in the chart below, its profit has declined over the last three years, even though its revenue has increased.

Check out our latest analysis for Dorman Products

NasdaqGS:DORM Earnings and Revenue History January 13th 2021

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. As a result, today we're going to take a closer look at Dorman Products' cashflow, and unusual items, with a view to understanding what these might tell us about 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.

A Closer Look At Dorman Products' Earnings

One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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. 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. 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. To quote a 2014 paper by Lewellen and Resutek, "firms with higher accruals tend to be less profitable in the future".

Dorman Products has an accrual ratio of -0.11 for the year to September 2020. Therefore, its statutory earnings were quite a lot less than its free cashflow. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$164m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of US$88.5m. Dorman Products shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. Having said that, there is more to the story. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Dorman Products' profit was reduced by unusual items worth US$24m 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. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. 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 Dorman Products 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 Dorman Products' Profit Performance

Considering both Dorman Products' accrual ratio and its unusual items, we think its statutory earnings are unlikely to exaggerate the company's underlying earnings power. Looking at all these factors, we'd say that Dorman Products' underlying earnings power is at least as good as the statutory numbers would make it seem. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. For example, we've discovered 1 warning sign that you should run your eye over to get a better picture of Dorman Products.

After our examination into the nature of Dorman Products' profit, we've come away optimistic for the company. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. 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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