Should You Be Excited About Skechers U.S.A., Inc.’s (NYSE:SKX) 17% Return On Equity?

One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. By way of learning-by-doing, we’ll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Skechers U.S.A., Inc. (NYSE:SKX).

Our data shows Skechers U.S.A has a return on equity of 17% for the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders’ equity, it generated $0.17 in profit.

See our latest analysis for Skechers U.S.A

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

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

Or for Skechers U.S.A:

17% = US$427m ÷ US$2.5b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Most readers would understand what net profit is, but it’s worth explaining the concept of shareholders’ equity. It is all earnings retained by the company, plus any capital paid in by shareholders. The easiest way to calculate shareholders’ equity is to subtract the company’s total liabilities from the total assets.

What Does ROE Mean?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The ‘return’ is the yearly profit. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, all else equal, investors should like a high ROE. Clearly, then, one can use ROE to compare different companies.

Does Skechers U.S.A Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company’s ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Skechers U.S.A has a better ROE than the average (11%) in the Luxury industry.

NYSE:SKX Past Revenue and Net Income, February 20th 2020
NYSE:SKX Past Revenue and Net Income, February 20th 2020

That’s clearly a positive. I usually take a closer look when a company has a better ROE than industry peers. One data point to check is if insiders have bought shares recently.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Most companies need money — from somewhere — to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders’ equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Skechers U.S.A’s Debt And Its 17% ROE

Although Skechers U.S.A does use a little debt, its debt to equity ratio of just 0.048 is very low. The fact that it achieved a fairly good ROE with only modest debt suggests the business might be worth putting on your watchlist. Careful use of debt to boost returns is often very good for shareholders. However, it could reduce the company’s ability to take advantage of future opportunities.

But It’s Just One Metric

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you’ll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course Skechers U.S.A may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.