Are GWA Group Limited’s (ASX:GWA) Mixed Financials Driving The Negative Sentiment?

GWA Group (ASX:GWA) has had a rough three months with its share price down 9.8%. It seems that the market might have completely ignored the positive aspects of the company’s fundamentals and decided to weigh-in more on the negative aspects. Fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes so it makes sense to study the company’s financials. Specifically, we decided to study GWA Group’s ROE in this article.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for GWA Group

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for GWA Group is:

16% = AU$44m ÷ AU$280m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The ‘return’ is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every A$1 of its shareholder’s investments, the company generates a profit of A$0.16.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we’ve learned that ROE is a measure of a company’s profitability. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or “retains” for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don’t necessarily bear these characteristics.

GWA Group’s Earnings Growth And 16% ROE

To begin with, GWA Group seems to have a respectable ROE. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 9.5% the company’s ROE looks pretty remarkable. Despite this, GWA Group’s five year net income growth was quite low averaging at only 4.4%. This is generally not the case as when a company has a high rate of return it should usually also have a high earnings growth rate. Such a scenario is likely to take place when a company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

As a next step, we compared GWA Group’s net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company’s growth is lower than the industry average growth of 6.9% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
ASX:GWA Past Earnings Growth August 25th 2020

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Has the market priced in the future outlook for GWA? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is GWA Group Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 96% (or a retention ratio of 3.9%), most of GWA Group’s profits are being paid to shareholders. This definitely contributes to the low earnings growth seen by the company.

Moreover, GWA Group has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company’s future payout ratio is expected to drop to 71% over the next three years. Despite the lower expected payout ratio, the company’s ROE is not expected to change by much.

Conclusion

On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by GWA Group can be open to many interpretations. In spite of the high ROE, the company has failed to see growth in its earnings due to it paying out most of its profits as dividend, with almost nothing left to invest into its own business. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company’s fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst’s forecasts page for the company.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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