Should Weakness in BASF SE's (ETR:BAS) Stock Be Seen As A Sign That Market Will Correct The Share Price Given Decent Financials?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 22, 2022
XTRA:BAS
Source: Shutterstock

With its stock down 19% over the past month, it is easy to disregard BASF (ETR:BAS). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. Specifically, we decided to study BASF's ROE in this article.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

View our latest analysis for BASF

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 BASF is:

14% = €6.0b ÷ €42b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each €1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made €0.14 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. 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.

BASF's Earnings Growth And 14% ROE

To start with, BASF's ROE looks acceptable. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 14%. However, while BASF has a pretty respectable ROE, its five year net income decline rate was 21% . We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

Next, when we compared with the industry, which has shrunk its earnings at a rate of 1.8% in the same period, we still found BASF's performance to be quite bleak, because the company has been shrinking its earnings faster than the industry.

past-earnings-growth
XTRA:BAS Past Earnings Growth March 22nd 2022

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if BASF is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is BASF Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 85% (implying that 15% of the profits are retained), most of BASF's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent.

Moreover, BASF has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 57% over the next three years. Regardless, the ROE is not expected to change much for the company despite the lower expected payout ratio.

Summary

In total, it does look like BASF has some positive aspects to its business. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE. Bear in mind, the company reinvests a small portion of its profits, which means that investors aren't reaping the benefits of the high rate of return. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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