Is Regis Resources Limited's (ASX:RRL) ROE Of 27.45% Sustainable?

Simply Wall St
March 12, 2018

With an ROE of 27.45%, Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 11.12% over the past year. However, whether this above-industry ROE is actually impressive depends on if it can be maintained. A measure of sustainable returns is RRL’s financial leverage. If RRL borrows debt to invest in its business, its profits will be higher. But ROE does not capture any debt, so we only see high profits and low equity, which is great on the surface. But today let’s take a deeper dive below this surface. View our latest analysis for Regis Resources

Breaking down Return on Equity

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. If investors diversify their portfolio by industry, they may want to maximise their return in the Gold sector by investing in the highest returning stock. However, this can be misleading as each firm has different costs of equity and debt levels i.e. the more debt Regis Resources has, the higher ROE is pumped up in the short term, at the expense of long term interest payment burden.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Regis Resources, which is 9.40%. Given a positive discrepancy of 18.06% between return and cost, this indicates that Regis Resources pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. ROE can be split up into three useful ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

ASX:RRL Last Perf Mar 12th 18
ASX:RRL Last Perf Mar 12th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Regis Resources’s asset base. Finally, financial leverage will be our main focus today. It shows how much of assets are funded by equity and can show how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. ROE can be inflated by disproportionately high levels of debt. This is also unsustainable due to the high interest cost that the company will also incur. Thus, we should look at Regis Resources’s debt-to-equity ratio to examine sustainability of its returns. Currently Regis Resources has virtually no debt, which means its returns are predominantly driven by equity capital. Therefore, the level of financial leverage has no impact on ROE, and the ratio is a representative measure of the efficiency of all its capital employed firm-wide.

ASX:RRL Historical Debt Mar 12th 18
ASX:RRL Historical Debt Mar 12th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Regis Resources’s above-industry ROE is encouraging, and is also in excess of its cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of high returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Regis Resources, I've compiled three fundamental aspects you should further research:

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