As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. 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. Today we'll focus on whether this year's statutory profits are a good guide to understanding BioDelivery Sciences International (NASDAQ:BDSI).
We like the fact that BioDelivery Sciences International made a profit of US$5.79m on its revenue of US$136.8m, in the last year. We know some investors love those high revenue growth stocks, but we do like to look at profit, even if it is, perhaps, a bit old fashioned.
Of course, when it comes to statutory profit, the devil is often in the detail, and we can get a better sense for a company by diving deeper into the financial statements. So today we'll look at what BioDelivery Sciences International's cashflow and unusual items tell us about the quality of its earnings, as well as touching on how its recent share issues are impacting shareholders. 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 BioDelivery Sciences International's Earnings
Many investors haven't heard of the accrual ratio from cashflow, but it is actually a useful measure of how well a company's profit is backed up by free cash flow (FCF) during a given period. 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.
As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.
For the year to June 2020, BioDelivery Sciences International had an accrual ratio of -0.21. Therefore, its statutory earnings were very significantly less than its free cashflow. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$20m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of US$5.79m. Notably, BioDelivery Sciences International had negative free cash flow last year, so the US$20m it produced this year was a welcome improvement. However, that's not the end of the story. We can look at how unusual items in the profit and loss statement impacted its accrual ratio, as well as explore how dilution is impacting shareholders negatively.
To understand the value of a company's earnings growth, it is imperative to consider any dilution of shareholders' interests. As it happens, BioDelivery Sciences International issued 13% more new shares over the last year. Therefore, each share now receives a smaller portion of profit. Per share metrics like EPS help us understand how much actual shareholders are benefitting from the company's profits, while the net income level gives us a better view of the company's absolute size. You can see a chart of BioDelivery Sciences International's EPS by clicking here.
How Is Dilution Impacting BioDelivery Sciences International's Earnings Per Share? (EPS)
We don't have any data on the company's profits from three years ago. And even focusing only on the last twelve months, we don't have a meaningful growth rate because it made a loss a year ago, too. But mathematics aside, it is always good to see when a formerly unprofitable business come good (though we accept profit would have been higher if dilution had not been required). So you can see that the dilution has had a bit of an impact on shareholders. Therefore, the dilution is having a noteworthy influence on shareholder returns. And so, you can see quite clearly that dilution is influencing shareholder earnings.
In the long term, if BioDelivery Sciences International's earnings per share can increase, then the share price should too. However, if its profit increases while its earnings per share stay flat (or even fall) then shareholders might not see much benefit. For the ordinary retail shareholder, EPS is a great measure to check your hypothetical "share" of the company's profit.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
BioDelivery Sciences International's profit was reduced by unusual items worth US$6.9m 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. It's never great to see unusual items costing the company profits, but on the upside, things might improve sooner rather than later. When we analysed the vast majority of listed companies worldwide, we found that significant unusual items are often not repeated. And that's hardly a surprise given these line items are considered unusual. If BioDelivery Sciences International 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 BioDelivery Sciences International's Profit Performance
In conclusion, both BioDelivery Sciences International's accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative, but the dilution means that per-share performance is weaker than the statutory profit numbers imply. Looking at all these factors, we'd say that BioDelivery Sciences International's underlying earnings power is at least as good as the statutory numbers would make it seem. Keep in mind, when it comes to analysing a stock it's worth noting the risks involved. In terms of investment risks, we've identified 5 warning signs with BioDelivery Sciences International, and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
Our examination of BioDelivery Sciences International has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And it has passed with flying colours. But there is always more to discover if you are capable of focussing your mind on minutiae. 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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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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