We Think Aviat Networks's (NASDAQ:AVNW) Statutory Profit Might Understate Its Earnings Potential

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 18, 2021

As a general rule, we think profitable companies are less risky than companies that lose money. 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 Aviat Networks (NASDAQ:AVNW).

While Aviat Networks was able to generate revenue of US$246.3m in the last twelve months, we think its profit result of US$6.14m was more important. The chart below shows that revenue has improved over the last three years, and, even better, the company has moved from unprofitable to profitable.

View our latest analysis for Aviat Networks

NasdaqGS:AVNW Earnings and Revenue History January 18th 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. Therefore, we think it's worth taking a closer look at Aviat Networks' cashflow, as well as examining the impact that unusual items have had on its reported profit. 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 Aviat Networks' Earnings

One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. 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. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.

Aviat Networks has an accrual ratio of -0.13 for the year to October 2020. That indicates that its free cash flow was a fair bit more than its statutory profit. Indeed, in the last twelve months it reported free cash flow of US$12m, well over the US$6.14m it reported in profit. Aviat Networks shareholders are no doubt pleased that free cash flow improved over the last twelve months. Having said that, there is more to the story. The accrual ratio is reflecting the impact of unusual items on statutory profit, at least in part.

The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit

Aviat Networks' profit was reduced by unusual items worth US$2.9m in the last twelve months, and this helped it produce high cash conversion, as reflected by its unusual items. This is what you'd expect to see where a company has a non-cash charge reducing paper profits. While deductions due to unusual items are disappointing in the first instance, there is a silver lining. 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 Aviat Networks 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 Aviat Networks' Profit Performance

In conclusion, both Aviat Networks' accrual ratio and its unusual items suggest that its statutory earnings are probably reasonably conservative. Looking at all these factors, we'd say that Aviat Networks' underlying earnings power is at least as good as the statutory numbers would make it seem. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Aviat Networks you should know about.

After our examination into the nature of Aviat Networks' profit, we've come away optimistic for the company. 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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