South Ocean Holdings' (JSE:SOH) Earnings Are Weaker Than They Seem

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 10, 2021
JSE:SOH
Source: Shutterstock

Investors were disappointed with South Ocean Holdings Limited's (JSE:SOH) earnings, despite the strong profit numbers. We did some digging and found some worrying underlying problems.

See our latest analysis for South Ocean Holdings

earnings-and-revenue-history
JSE:SOH Earnings and Revenue History August 11th 2021

Zooming In On South Ocean Holdings' 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). 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'.

As a result, a negative accrual ratio is a positive for the company, and a positive accrual ratio is a negative. 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. 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 2021, South Ocean Holdings had an accrual ratio of 0.20. Unfortunately, that means its free cash flow fell significantly short of its reported profits. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of R56m despite its profit of R71.3m, mentioned above. We also note that South Ocean Holdings' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of R56m.

Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of South Ocean Holdings.

Our Take On South Ocean Holdings' Profit Performance

South Ocean Holdings' accrual ratio for the last twelve months signifies cash conversion is less than ideal, which is a negative when it comes to our view of its earnings. Therefore, it seems possible to us that South Ocean Holdings' true underlying earnings power is actually less than its statutory profit. The good news is that it earned a profit in the last twelve months, despite its previous loss. 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. So if you'd like to dive deeper into this stock, it's crucial to consider any risks it's facing. Be aware that South Ocean Holdings is showing 4 warning signs in our investment analysis and 1 of those can't be ignored...

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of South Ocean Holdings' 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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