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Smart-Core Holdings' (HKG:2166) Earnings Are Of Questionable Quality

Simply Wall St ·  {{timeTz}}

Smart-Core Holdings Limited's (HKG:2166) robust earnings report didn't manage to move the market for its stock. Our analysis suggests that shareholders have noticed something concerning in the numbers.

Check out our latest analysis for Smart-Core Holdings

SEHK:2166 Earnings and Revenue History April 29th 2022

Zooming In On Smart-Core Holdings' Earnings

One key financial ratio used to measure how well a company converts its profit to free cash flow (FCF) is the accrual ratio. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that 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.

Over the twelve months to December 2021, Smart-Core Holdings recorded an accrual ratio of 0.39. As a general rule, that bodes poorly for future profitability. To wit, the company did not generate one whit of free cashflow in that time. In the last twelve months it actually had negative free cash flow, with an outflow of HK$448m despite its profit of HK$214.1m, mentioned above. We also note that Smart-Core Holdings' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of HK$448m.

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

Our Take On Smart-Core Holdings' Profit Performance

As we have made quite clear, we're a bit worried that Smart-Core Holdings didn't back up the last year's profit with free cashflow. For this reason, we think that Smart-Core Holdings' statutory profits may be a bad guide to its underlying earnings power, and might give investors an overly positive impression of the company. But the good news is that its EPS growth over the last three years has been very impressive. 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 example, Smart-Core Holdings has 4 warning signs (and 2 which shouldn't be ignored) we think you should know about.

This note has only looked at a single factor that sheds light on the nature of Smart-Core Holdings' profit. 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. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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