Most readers would already be aware that McGrath's (ASX:MEA) stock increased significantly by 25% over the past three months. Given that stock prices are usually aligned with a company's financial performance in the long-term, we decided to study its financial indicators more closely to see if they had a hand to play in the recent price move. Specifically, we decided to study McGrath's ROE in this article.
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.
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 McGrath is:
26% = AU$9.8m ÷ AU$38m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).
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$0.26 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. 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.
McGrath's Earnings Growth And 26% ROE
Firstly, we acknowledge that McGrath has a significantly high ROE. Secondly, even when compared to the industry average of 5.1% the company's ROE is quite impressive. Needless to say, we are quite surprised to see that McGrath's net income shrunk at a rate of 15% over the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.
As a next step, we compared McGrath's performance with the industry and found thatMcGrath's performance is depressing even when compared with the industry, which has shrunk its earnings at a rate of 9.2% in the same period, which is a slower than the company.
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. Is McGrath fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
Is McGrath Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
When we piece together McGrath's low three-year median payout ratio of 3.1% (where it is retaining 97% of its profits), calculated for the last three-year period, we are puzzled by the lack of growth. This typically shouldn't be the case when a company is retaining most of its earnings. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For instance, the business has faced some headwinds.
In addition, McGrath has been paying dividends over a period of five years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is preferred by the management even though earnings have been in decline.
On the whole, we do feel that McGrath has some positive attributes. 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. While we won't completely dismiss the company, what we would do, is try to ascertain how risky the business is to make a more informed decision around the company. You can see the 3 risks we have identified for McGrath by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.
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