Semler Scientific's (NASDAQ:SMLR) Earnings Are Weaker Than They Seem

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 11, 2021
NasdaqCM:SMLR
Source: Shutterstock

Semler Scientific, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:SMLR) robust earnings report didn't manage to move the market for its stock. Our analysis suggests that shareholders have noticed something concerning in the numbers.

View our latest analysis for Semler Scientific

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NasdaqCM:SMLR Earnings and Revenue History November 12th 2021

Zooming In On Semler Scientific'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. To get the accrual ratio we first subtract FCF from profit for a period, and then divide that number by the average operating assets for the period. The ratio shows us how much a company's profit exceeds its FCF.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.

Over the twelve months to September 2021, Semler Scientific recorded an accrual ratio of 0.33. Therefore, we know that it's free cashflow was significantly lower than its statutory profit, raising questions about how useful that profit figure really is. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$19m in the last year, which was a lot less than its statutory profit of US$21.1m. At this point we should mention that Semler Scientific did manage to increase its free cash flow in the last twelve months The good news for shareholders is that Semler Scientific'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. Shareholders should look for improved cashflow relative to profit in the current year, if that is indeed the case.

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.

Our Take On Semler Scientific's Profit Performance

As we discussed above, we think Semler Scientific's earnings were not supported by free cash flow, which might concern some investors. For this reason, we think that Semler Scientific's statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. But on the bright side, its earnings per share have grown at an extremely impressive rate over the last three years. The goal of this article has been to assess how well we can rely on the statutory earnings to reflect the company's potential, but there is plenty more to consider. If you want to do dive deeper into Semler Scientific, you'd also look into what risks it is currently facing. Our analysis shows 2 warning signs for Semler Scientific (1 shouldn't be ignored!) and we strongly recommend you look at them before investing.

Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Semler Scientific's profit. 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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