Is AutoCanada Inc.'s (TSE:ACQ) ROE Of 31% Impressive?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 11, 2022
TSX:ACQ
Source: Shutterstock

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). We'll use ROE to examine AutoCanada Inc. (TSE:ACQ), by way of a worked example.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for AutoCanada

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

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

31% = CA$150m ÷ CA$492m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every CA$1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated CA$0.31 in profit.

Does AutoCanada Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, AutoCanada has a better ROE than the average (25%) in the Specialty Retail industry.

roe
TSX:ACQ Return on Equity May 11th 2022

That's what we like to see. With that said, a high ROE doesn't always indicate high profitability. A higher proportion of debt in a company's capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk . Our risks dashboardshould have the 2 risks we have identified for AutoCanada.

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt used for growth will improve returns, but won't affect the total equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

AutoCanada's Debt And Its 31% ROE

AutoCanada does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 2.87. There's no doubt the ROE is impressive, but it's worth keeping in mind that the metric could have been lower if the company were to reduce its debt. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.

Summary

Return on equity is one way we can compare its business quality of different companies. In our books, the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. 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. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course AutoCanada may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Make Confident Investment Decisions

Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.