Can Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau AG (VIE:HST) Maintain Its Strong Returns?

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). By way of learning-by-doing, we’ll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau AG (VIE:HST).

Our data shows Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau has a return on equity of 19% for the last year. That means that for every €1 worth of shareholders’ equity, it generated €0.19 in profit.

Check out our latest analysis for Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

Or for Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau:

19% = €4.9m ÷ €44m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2017.)

Most know that net profit is the total earnings after all expenses, but the concept of shareholders’ equity is a little more complicated. 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 Signify?

Return on Equity measures a company’s profitability against the profit it has kept for the business (plus any capital injections). The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, all else being equal, a high ROE is better than a low one. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau Have A Good ROE?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau has a higher ROE than the average (14%) in the Construction industry.

WBAG:HST Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 2019
WBAG:HST Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 2019

That’s clearly a positive. I usually take a closer look when a company has a better ROE than industry peers. For example, I often check if insiders have been buying shares .

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), 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 use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau’s Debt And Its 19% Return On Equity

Hutter & Schrantz Stahlbau has a debt to equity ratio of 0.36, which is far from excessive. The combination of modest debt and a very respectable ROE suggests this is a business worth watching. 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 a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth — and how much investment is required going forward. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.