We Wouldn’t Rely On Square’s (NYSE:SQ) Statutory Earnings As A Guide

Many investors consider it preferable to invest in profitable companies over unprofitable ones, because profitability suggests a business is sustainable. That said, the current statutory profit is not always a good guide to a company’s underlying profitability. This article will consider whether Square‘s (NYSE:SQ) statutory profits are a good guide to its underlying earnings.

It’s good to see that over the last twelve months Square made a profit of US$375.4m on revenue of US$4.71b. 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Square

NYSE:SQ Income Statement April 8th 2020
NYSE:SQ Income Statement April 8th 2020

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. This article will discuss how unusual items have impacted Square’s most recent profit results. 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.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

For anyone who wants to understand Square’s profit beyond the statutory numbers, it’s important to note that during the last twelve months statutory profit gained from US$371m worth of unusual items. We can’t deny that higher profits generally leave us optimistic, but we’d prefer it if the profit were to be sustainable. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it’s very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. Which is hardly surprising, given the name. Square had a rather significant contribution from unusual items relative to its profit to December 2019. All else being equal, this would likely have the effect of making the statutory profit a poor guide to underlying earnings power.

Our Take On Square’s Profit Performance

As previously mentioned, Square’s large boost from unusual items won’t be there indefinitely, so its statutory earnings are probably a poor guide to its underlying profitability. For this reason, we think that Square’s statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. On the bright side, the company showed enough improvement to book a profit this year, after losing money last year. 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. With this in mind, we wouldn’t consider investing in a stock unless we had a thorough understanding of the risks. For instance, we’ve identified 5 warning signs for Square (2 are potentially serious) you should be familiar with.

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

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

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