Huijing Holdings Company Limited's (HKG:9968) recent weak earnings report didn't cause a big stock movement. Our analysis suggests that along with soft profit numbers, investors should be aware of some other underlying weaknesses in the numbers.
View our latest analysis for Huijing HoldingsSEHK:9968 Earnings and Revenue History May 4th 2022
Zooming In On Huijing Holdings' Earnings
As finance nerds would already know, the accrual ratio from cashflow is a key measure for assessing how well a company's free cash flow (FCF) matches its profit. In plain english, this ratio subtracts FCF from net profit, and divides that number by the company's average operating assets over that period. This ratio tells us how much of a company's profit is not backed by free cashflow.
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 having an accrual ratio above zero is of little concern, we do think it's worth noting when a company has a relatively high accrual ratio. That's because some academic studies have suggested that high accruals ratios tend to lead to lower profit or less profit growth.
Over the twelve months to December 2021, Huijing Holdings recorded an accrual ratio of 0.34. We can therefore deduce that its free cash flow fell well short of covering its statutory profit, suggesting we might want to think twice before putting a lot of weight on the latter. Over the last year it actually had negative free cash flow of CN¥1.4b, in contrast to the aforementioned profit of CN¥256.1m. We also note that Huijing Holdings' free cash flow was actually negative last year as well, so we could understand if shareholders were bothered by its outflow of CN¥1.4b. 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.
Note: we always recommend investors check balance sheet strength. Click here to be taken to our balance sheet analysis of Huijing Holdings.
The Impact Of Unusual Items On Profit
Given the accrual ratio, it's not overly surprising that Huijing Holdings' profit was boosted by unusual items worth CN¥168m in the last twelve months. While it's always nice to have higher profit, a large contribution from unusual items sometimes dampens our enthusiasm. We ran the numbers on most publicly listed companies worldwide, and it's very common for unusual items to be once-off in nature. And, after all, that's exactly what the accounting terminology implies. If Huijing Holdings doesn't see that contribution repeat, then all else being equal we'd expect its profit to drop over the current year.
Our Take On Huijing Holdings' Profit Performance
Summing up, Huijing Holdings received a nice boost to profit from unusual items, but could not match its paper profit with free cash flow. For the reasons mentioned above, we think that a perfunctory glance at Huijing Holdings' statutory profits might make it look better than it really is on an underlying level. In light of this, if you'd like to do more analysis on the company, it's vital to be informed of the risks involved. Every company has risks, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Huijing Holdings (of which 1 can't be ignored!) you should know about.
Our examination of Huijing Holdings has focussed on certain factors that can make its earnings look better than they are. And, on that basis, we are somewhat skeptical. 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.
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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.