Statistically speaking, it is less risky to invest in profitable companies than in unprofitable ones. However, sometimes companies receive a one-off boost (or reduction) to their profit, and it's not always clear whether statutory profits are a good guide, going forward. In this article, we'll look at how useful this year's statutory profit is, when analysing eXp World Holdings (NASDAQ:EXPI).
It's good to see that over the last twelve months eXp World Holdings made a profit of US$24.2m on revenue of US$1.46b. 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. The good news is that the company managed to grow its revenue over the last three years, and also move from loss-making to profitable.
Not all profits are equal, and we can learn more about the nature of a company's past profitability by diving deeper into the financial statements. So today we'll look at what eXp World Holdings' cashflow tells us about its earnings, as well as examining how issuing shares is impacting shareholder value. 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.
Zooming In On eXp World Holdings' 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. 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. 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. 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. Notably, there is some academic evidence that suggests that a high accrual ratio is a bad sign for near-term profits, generally speaking.
For the year to September 2020, eXp World Holdings had an accrual ratio of -4.07. That implies it has very good cash conversion, and that its earnings in the last year actually significantly understate its free cash flow. To wit, it produced free cash flow of US$99m during the period, dwarfing its reported profit of US$24.2m. eXp World Holdings shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. Unfortunately for shareholders, the company has also been issuing new shares, diluting their share of future earnings.
In order to understand the potential for per share returns, it is essential to consider how much a company is diluting shareholders. In fact, eXp World Holdings increased the number of shares on issue by 8.1% over the last twelve months by issuing new shares. That means its earnings are split among a greater number of shares. To celebrate net income while ignoring dilution is like rejoicing because you have a single slice of a larger pizza, but ignoring the fact that the pizza is now cut into many more slices. You can see a chart of eXp World Holdings' EPS by clicking here.
A Look At The Impact Of eXp World Holdings' Dilution on Its Earnings Per Share (EPS).
eXp World Holdings was losing money 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. What we do know is that while it's great to see a profit over the last twelve months, that profit would have been better, on a per share basis, if the company hadn't needed to issue shares. 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 eXp World Holdings' 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 that reason, you could say that EPS is more important that net income in the long run, assuming the goal is to assess whether a company's share price might grow.
Our Take On eXp World Holdings' Profit Performance
In conclusion, eXp World Holdings has a strong cashflow relative to earnings, which indicates good quality earnings, but the dilution means its earnings per share are dropping faster than its profit. Based on these factors, we think that eXp World Holdings' profits are a reasonably conservative guide to its underlying profitability. 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 3 warning signs with eXp World Holdings, and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
Our examination of eXp World Holdings has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. 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.
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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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