Has Ampol Limited (ASX:ALD) Stock's Recent Performance Got Anything to Do With Its Financial Health?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 19, 2022
ASX:ALD
Source: Shutterstock

Ampol's (ASX:ALD) stock up by 3.3% over the past three months. We wonder if and what role the company's financials play in that price change as a company's long-term fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Ampol's ROE today.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Ampol

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE can be calculated by using the formula:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Ampol is:

15% = AU$491m ÷ AU$3.2b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every A$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn A$0.15 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of Ampol's Earnings Growth And 15% ROE

To begin with, Ampol seems to have a respectable ROE. Further, the company's ROE compares quite favorably to the industry average of 6.2%. Needless to say, we are quite surprised to see that Ampol's net income shrunk at a rate of 36% over the past five years. Therefore, there might be some other aspects that could explain this. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

That being said, we compared Ampol's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 8.1% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
ASX:ALD Past Earnings Growth February 19th 2022

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is ALD worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether ALD is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Ampol Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Looking at its three-year median payout ratio of 42% (or a retention ratio of 58%) which is pretty normal, Ampol's declining earnings is rather baffling as one would expect to see a fair bit of growth when a company is retaining a good portion of its profits. It looks like there might be some other reasons to explain the lack in that respect. For example, the business could be in decline.

Additionally, Ampol has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 53% over the next three years. Regardless, the ROE is not expected to change much for the company despite the higher expected payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that Ampol certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return and is reinvesting ma huge portion of its profits. By the looks of it, there could be some other factors, not necessarily in control of the business, that's preventing growth. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. 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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