Non-GAAP earnings are back in the crosshairs. 15 years after the Enron scandal first prompted the SEC to create rules for non-GAAP metrics, the proliferation of these pro forma results have led to renewed scrutiny.
After announcing 2Q16 earnings, LUV fell nearly 12%, as investors seemed to care more about Southwest’s ability to hit analyst expectations, which have inherent flaws, and less about the company’s record profits.
We’ve been sounding the alarm on non-GAAP earnings for several years now. Companies exploited the wide leeway granted by the SEC to present their business in a more favorable light.
We’ve pointed out the flaws in the price to earnings (PE) ratio many times before. Chief among these flaws is the fact that the accounting earnings used in the ratio are unreliable for many reasons:
To learn the dangers of non-GAAP earnings and how to overcome them, join CEO David Trainer, a Wall Street veteran, in this week’s free webinar “The Dangers of Non-GAAP Earnings.” David will discuss what goes into non-GAAP earnings, why they create a problem in investing and analysis, and where you should focus when analyzing companies who report non-GAAP results.
Angie’s List (ANGI) reported a larger than expected loss on Wednesday, and its revenues grew slower than expected.
In my most recent article, I said that modest growth over the next 15 years makes Intel worth ~$41 share today, and this earnings report strengthens my belief in that fair value estimate.
RED FLAG: Our analysis of the Financial Footnotes reveals: the company has written off over $60bn in assets over the last twelve years. That is a big number compared to the company’s market cap of roughly $2.2bn and its net assets of about $1.3bn. This results in economic earnings of -$5,346mm compared to Net Income of -$866mm during the last fiscal year. For details on what causes the difference between Economic Versus Accounting Profits, see Appendix 3 on page 10 of our free report on JDSU.
RED FLAG: The main driver of the difference between Economic and Accounting earnings is FDX’s $11.9bn of off-balance sheet debt, a big number compared to $19.7bn in Net Assets and $25.6bn of market value.
HIDDEN GEM: Our detailed valuation model shows that IBM grew its “economic” profits more than it accounting profits during its last fiscal year. Economic profits rose by $1.15bn while accounting profits rose by $1.09bn.
Accounting data was not designed for equity investors, but for debt investors. “Earnings, earnings per share and earnings growth are misleading measures of corporate performance.”(from page 66 in The Quest For Value by Bennett Stewart, Harper Collins 1991.)
Overall, the Risk/Reward of investing in Yahoo’s stock looks Very Dangerous to me. There is lots of downside risk given the Misleading Earnings and there is little upside reward given the already-rich expectations embedded in the stock price.
One of the Most Dangerous Stocks for July, Whole Foods has misleading earnings and a sky-high valuation, in our opinion. The same is true for all of our Most Dangerous Stocks.
Hidden Gem – GPS: economic earnings are rising faster than reported accounting earnings b/c the company lowered the capital employed to run the business. GAAP earnings do not capture increase capital efficiency of the business.
TheStreet.com recently published three articles quoting me on SIRI. Andrea Tse called and, after reviewing our models on SIRI, I told her that the stock was Dangerous because:
There are two primary reasons a stock gets on our Most Dangerous List:
1. Misleading earnings: reported GAAP earnings are positive and rising while economic earnings are negative and declining
2. Expensive valuation: future cash flow expectations embedded in the current price are unusually high especially compared to historical performance.
Free copy of our report on NYX is in the Free Archive on www.newconstructs.com. Or just click here: NYX Company Valuation Report.