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

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 09, 2021
NasdaqGS:ILMN
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Broadly speaking, profitable businesses are less risky than unprofitable ones. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company's underlying profitability. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN).

We like the fact that Illumina made a profit of US$638.0m on its revenue of US$3.24b, in the last year. As you can see in the chart below, its profit has declined over the last three years, even though its revenue has increased.

Check out our latest analysis for Illumina

earnings-and-revenue-history
NasdaqGS:ILMN Earnings and Revenue History January 10th 2021

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 Illumina's cashflow tells us about the quality of its earnings. 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.

Examining Cashflow Against Illumina's Earnings

In high finance, the key ratio used to measure how well a company converts reported profits into free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio (from cashflow). 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. You could think of the accrual ratio from cashflow as the 'non-FCF profit ratio'.

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, Illumina recorded an accrual ratio of -0.12. That implies it has good cash conversion, and implies that its free cash flow solidly exceeded its profit last year. In fact, it had free cash flow of US$933m in the last year, which was a lot more than its statutory profit of US$638.0m. Illumina shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months.

Our Take On Illumina's Profit Performance

As we discussed above, Illumina has perfectly satisfactory free cash flow relative to profit. Because of this, we think Illumina's earnings potential is at least as good as it seems, and maybe even better! Unfortunately, though, its earnings per share actually fell back over the last year. 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. While it's really important to consider how well a company's statutory earnings represent its true earnings power, it's also worth taking a look at what analysts are forecasting for the future. Luckily, you can check out what analysts are forecasting by clicking here.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Illumina'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. 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.

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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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