Why Franklin Covey's (NYSE:FC) Earnings Are Better Than They Seem

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 15, 2021
NYSE:FC
Source: Shutterstock

Franklin Covey Co.'s (NYSE:FC) recent earnings report didn't offer any surprises, with the shares unchanged over the last week. Our analysis suggests that shareholders might be missing some positive underlying factors in the earnings report.

See our latest analysis for Franklin Covey

earnings-and-revenue-history
NYSE:FC Earnings and Revenue History July 15th 2021

Examining Cashflow Against Franklin Covey's Earnings

One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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.

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".

Franklin Covey has an accrual ratio of -0.43 for the year to May 2021. Therefore, its statutory earnings were very significantly less than its free cashflow. To wit, it produced free cash flow of US$38m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of US$12.8m. Franklin Covey's free cash flow improved over the last year, which is generally good to see. Having said that it seems that a recent tax benefit and some unusual items have impacted its profit (and this its accrual ratio).

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.

How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?

Franklin Covey's profit was reduced by unusual items worth US$2.4m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. This is what you'd expect to see where a company has a non-cash charge reducing paper profits. 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. If Franklin Covey doesn't see those unusual expenses repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to increase over the coming year.

An Unusual Tax Situation

In addition to the notable accrual ratio, we can see that Franklin Covey received a tax benefit of US$7.4m. This is of course a bit out of the ordinary, given it is more common for companies to be paying tax than receiving tax benefits! We're sure the company was pleased with its tax benefit. And since it previously lost money, it may well simply indicate the realisation of past tax losses. However, our data indicates that tax benefits can temporarily boost statutory profit in the year it is booked, but subsequently profit may fall back. Assuming the tax benefit is not repeated every year, we could see its profitability drop noticeably, all else being equal. While we think it's good that the company has booked a tax benefit, it does mean that there's every chance the statutory profit will come in a lot higher than it would be if the income was adjusted for one-off factors.

Our Take On Franklin Covey's Profit Performance

In conclusion, both Franklin Covey's accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative, but the presence of a tax benefits may be inflating the numbers in a way that won't persist. Based on these factors, we think Franklin Covey's earnings potential is at least as good as it seems, and maybe even better! 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. To help with this, we've discovered 3 warning signs (1 shouldn't be ignored!) that you ought to be aware of before buying any shares in Franklin Covey.

Our examination of Franklin Covey has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. 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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