AltaGas Ltd.'s (TSE:ALA) Stock On An Uptrend: Could Fundamentals Be Driving The Momentum?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 14, 2021

AltaGas' (TSE:ALA) stock is up by a considerable 19% 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. In this article, we decided to focus on AltaGas' ROE.

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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for AltaGas

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 AltaGas is:

5.4% = CA$417m ÷ CA$7.8b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every CA$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of CA$0.05.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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. 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 AltaGas' Earnings Growth And 5.4% ROE

When you first look at it, AltaGas' ROE doesn't look that attractive. A quick further study shows that the company's ROE doesn't compare favorably to the industry average of 8.7% either. In spite of this, AltaGas was able to grow its net income considerably, at a rate of 36% in the last five years. Therefore, there could be other reasons behind this growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

We then compared AltaGas' net income growth with the industry and we're pleased to see that the company's growth figure is higher when compared with the industry which has a growth rate of 6.6% in the same period.

TSX:ALA Past Earnings Growth January 14th 2021

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is AltaGas fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is AltaGas Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

AltaGas has a significant three-year median payout ratio of 80%, meaning the company only retains 20% of its income. This implies that the company has been able to achieve high earnings growth despite returning most of its profits to shareholders.

Additionally, AltaGas has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 53% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 7.1% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that AltaGas certainly does have some positive factors to consider. That is, quite an impressive growth in earnings. However, the low profit retention means that the company's earnings growth could have been higher, had it been reinvesting a higher portion of its profits. Having said that, on studying current analyst estimates, we were concerned to see that while the company has grown its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to shrink in the future. 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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