Quest Diagnostics Incorporated's (NYSE:DGX) robust earnings report didn't manage to move the market for its stock. We did some digging, and we found some concerning factors in the details.
How Do Unusual Items Influence Profit?
Importantly, our data indicates that Quest Diagnostics' profit received a boost of US$208m in unusual items, over the last year. We can't deny that higher profits generally leave us optimistic, but we'd prefer it if the profit were to be sustainable. 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 Quest Diagnostics doesn't see that contribution repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to drop over the current year.
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 Quest Diagnostics' Profit Performance
Arguably, Quest Diagnostics' statutory earnings have been distorted by unusual items boosting profit. Because of this, we think that it may be that Quest Diagnostics' statutory profits are better than its underlying earnings power. 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'd like to know more about Quest Diagnostics as a business, it's important to be aware of any risks it's facing. Be aware that Quest Diagnostics is showing 3 warning signs in our investment analysis and 1 of those doesn't sit too well with us...
Today we've zoomed in on a single data point to better understand the nature of Quest Diagnostics' profit. 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. So you may wish to see this free collection of companies boasting high return on equity, or this list of stocks that insiders are buying.
When trading Quest Diagnostics or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account. Promoted
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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.