The Georgia Tech Financial Analysis Lab conducts unbiased research on issues of financial reporting and analysis. Unbiased information is vital to effective investment decision-making. Accordingly, we think that independent research organizations, such as our own, have an important role to play in providing information to market participants.
Because our lab is housed within a university, all of our research reports have an educational quality, as they are designed to impart knowledge and understanding to those who read them. Our focus is on issues that we believe will be of interest to a large segment of stock market participants. Depending on the issue, we may focus our attention on individual companies, groups of companies, or on large segments of the market at large.
A recurring theme in our work is the identification of reporting practices that give investors a misleading signal, whether positive or negative, of corporate earning power. We define earning power as the ability to generate a sustainable stream of earnings that is backed by cash flow. Accordingly, our research may look into reporting practices that affect either earnings or cash flow, or both. At times our research may look at stock prices generally, though from a fundamental and not technical point of view.
Cash Flow Trends and Their Fundamental Drivers: Comprehensive Review
Quarter 2, 2015
Free Cash Margin Index:
2.43%, 3.96% (Mar. 2001, Dec. 2008)
4.65% (Jun. 2015)
7.18% (Mar. 2010)
Median free cash margin increased to 4.65% for the twelve months ended June 2015, up from 4.39% for the twelve months ended March 2015 and from 3.97% in June 2014. The metric remains in the middle range of its historical stability between 4.00% and 5.00%. A decrease in the overall cash cycle (due to a decrease in accounts receivable days) continues to be the primary driver of the increase, while a modest increase in gross margin was observed for the period, up to 43.52% from 43.06% in March 2015 and 42.80% in June 2014. Capital expenditures to revenue decreased ever so slightly to 3.50% from the previous quarter at 3.52%.
Continued topline growth suggests a strengthening economy. Median revenues within our sample increased to $806.20 million, up from $789.15 million for the twelve months ended March 2015 and from $739.70 for the twelve months ended June 2014. Median revenues remain at all-time high levels and hover above the previous peak of $788.50 million reached during the period ending December 2012.
The rise in free cash margin would be more substantial but for the decline in accounts payable, the primary drag on free cash margin. Inventory reversed its slight upward trend for the first time in six periods, down slightly to 22.22 revenue days from 22.78 revenue days in March 2015. SG&A expenses have risen slowly to 21.43% in June 2015, up from 21.34% in March 2015 and 21.11% in June 2014. Overall, accounting data for the twelve months ending with the second quarter of 2015 imply a steadily growing economy.
Looking at individual industries for the reporting period ending June 2015, free cash margin was higher in twenty industries, stable in fifteen, and lower in nine.
Data for this research were provided by Cash Flow Analytics, LLC., www.cashflowanalytics.com.
Charles Mulford is a principal in Cash Flow Analytics, LLC.
Earnings Quality: Reports on Individual Companies and Industries
In these reports we examine one or more dimensions of earnings quality: the cash flow support of earnings, the sustainability of earnings, or the quality of the balance sheet.