Are United Internet AG's (ETR:UTDI) Fundamentals Good Enough to Warrant Buying Given The Stock's Recent Weakness?

August 07, 2022
  •  Updated
October 01, 2022
XTRA:UTDI
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With its stock down 18% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard United Internet (ETR:UTDI). However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. Particularly, we will be paying attention to United Internet's ROE today.

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. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

See our latest analysis for United Internet

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 United Internet is:

9.3% = €475m ÷ €5.1b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each €1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made €0.09 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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 United Internet's Earnings Growth And 9.3% ROE

To begin with, United Internet seems to have a respectable ROE. Even when compared to the industry average of 9.3% the company's ROE looks quite decent. For this reason, United Internet's five year net income decline of 6.4% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. 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. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

That being said, we compared United Internet's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 42% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
XTRA:UTDI Past Earnings Growth August 7th 2022

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 United Internet fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is United Internet Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

United Internet's low three-year median payout ratio of 24% (or a retention ratio of 76%) over the last three years should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings to fuel its growth but the company's earnings have actually shrunk. The low payout should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings and consequently, should see some growth. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For example, the company's business may be deteriorating.

In addition, United Internet has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 22%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 9.2%.

Conclusion

In total, it does look like United Internet 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 and and a high reinvestment rate. We believe that there might be some outside factors that could be having a negative impact on the business. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. 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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