Stock Analysis

Are CorVel's (NASDAQ:CRVL) Statutory Earnings A Good Reflection Of Its Earnings Potential?

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NasdaqGS:CRVL
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It might be old fashioned, but we really like to invest in companies that make a profit, each and every year. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. Today we'll focus on whether this year's statutory profits are a good guide to understanding CorVel (NASDAQ:CRVL).

It's good to see that over the last twelve months CorVel made a profit of US$41.3m on revenue of US$560.7m. Happily, it has grown both its profit and revenue over the last three years (but not in the last year), as you can see in the chart below.

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NasdaqGS:CRVL Earnings and Revenue History November 20th 2020

Importantly, statutory profits are not always the best tool for understanding a company's true earnings power, so it's well worth examining profits in a little more detail. So today we'll look at what CorVel's cashflow tells us about the quality of its earnings. Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of CorVel.

A Closer Look At CorVel'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. 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. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.

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. 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".

Over the twelve months to September 2020, CorVel recorded an accrual ratio of -0.11. That indicates that its free cash flow was a fair bit more than its statutory profit. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$52m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of US$41.3m. CorVel shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months.

Our Take On CorVel's Profit Performance

As we discussed above, CorVel has perfectly satisfactory free cash flow relative to profit. Because of this, we think CorVel's earnings potential is at least as good as it seems, and maybe even better! And the EPS is up 35% annually, over the last three years. Of course, we've only just scratched the surface when it comes to analysing its earnings; one could also consider margins, forecast growth, and return on investment, among other factors. If you want to do dive deeper into CorVel, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for CorVel you should know about.

Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of CorVel's profit. But there are plenty of other ways to inform your opinion of a company. For example, many people consider a high return on equity as an indication of favorable business economics, while others like to 'follow the money' and search out stocks that insiders are buying. 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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About NasdaqGS:CRVL

CorVel

CorVel Corporation provides workers’ compensation, auto, liability, and health solutions for employers, third party administrators, insurance companies, and government agencies to assist them in managing the medical costs and monitoring the quality of care associated with healthcare claims.

Flawless balance sheet with proven track record.