Why comprehensive income matters – Dart Group Plc
I have mentioned a couple of times that in my opinion, the so-called “comprehensive income” is a much better indicator for shareholder wealth created than net income or earnings per share.
In my experience, almost no one cares to look at what happens after the net income line. Usually, comprehensive income is stated on a separate page anyway.
The first thought is of course “Yippie yeah”, a really significant earnings increase, P&E of 4 etc etc.
Richard Beddard at the excellent Interactive Investor blog even says the following:
The highest earnings yield ever calculated by the Human Screen is 35%. It’s so high, he’s wondering if air line and road-haulier Dart has bust his value yard-stick.
Adjusted operating profit up 9%
Adjusted return on tangible assets: 4%
Net profit of £23m compared to net cash flow of £95m (£48m after net capital expenditure)
Net cash after approximate capitalised lease obligations of £125m is £34m, 5% of tangible assets
Per-share dividend up 7%
Not so fast. I guess that Richard stopped at page 9 of the interim report and didn’t bother to read that strange stuff at page 10 which looks as follows:
So we have additional items which significantly decreased shareholders equity but didn’t need to be recorded in normal earnings but comprehensive income. In this case we are looking at fuel hedges.
Items which can be recorded in comprehensive income are:
– Unrealized holding gains and losses on available for sale securities ( a trick often used by banks and other financials)
– Effective portion of gain or loss on derivative instruments (cash-flow hedge);
– Foreign currency translation adjustments (i.e. change in value of a foreign subsidiaries net asset value)
– Minimum pension liability adjustments.
Normally people would argue that those items are “non operating” and therefore not or less relevant. However, as it affects shareholder value, in my opinion it is very important to look at those item to determine real value creation for the shareholder.
Coming back to Dart Group: The fuel hedging is an essential part of the business model. Fuel costs are around 20% of sales and cannot be passed directly too customers, especially for the prepaid part. I will have a separate post on how to interpret the fuel hedges but for now the important point is:
The result of the fuel hedges should be treated as part of the normal business of Dart Group.
Therefore real 2011/2012 earnings for Dart are rather around 9 pence per share and not the 16 pence recorded in the income statement. Still cheap (PE of 9) but not “busting any value yardstick”.
Any value investor interested in the total value creation of a company for shareholders should include all items of the comprehensive income statement into his valuation. Many companies are very good in shifting all unpleasant stuff into this section. Especially for financial companies, recorded earnings are more or less meaningless without the items in comprehensive income. Also fuel hedges for airlines or other fuel cost eexposed companies should be viewed as relevant.