Stock Analysis

Metro Inc.'s (TSE:MRU) Fundamentals Look Pretty Strong: Could The Market Be Wrong About The Stock?

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With its stock down 8.2% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Metro (TSE:MRU). However, the company's fundamentals look pretty decent, and long-term financials are usually aligned with future market price movements. Specifically, we decided to study Metro's ROE in this article.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

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How To 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 Metro is:

13% = CA\$873m ÷ CA\$6.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. That means that for every CA\$1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated CA\$0.13 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

A Side By Side comparison of Metro's Earnings Growth And 13% ROE

At first glance, Metro seems to have a decent ROE. Even when compared to the industry average of 16% the company's ROE looks quite decent. For this reason, Metro's five year net income decline of 14% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. So, there might be some other aspects that could explain this. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

So, as a next step, we compared Metro's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 21% in the same period.

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Is Metro fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is Metro Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Looking at its three-year median payout ratio of 30% (or a retention ratio of 70%) which is pretty normal, Metro'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, Metro 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 31%. Accordingly, forecasts suggest that Metro's future ROE will be 14% which is again, similar to the current ROE.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that Metro has some positive attributes. However, given the high ROE and high profit retention, we would expect the company to be delivering strong earnings growth, but that isn't the case here. This suggests that there might be some external threat to the business, that's hampering its growth. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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