The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to begin learning the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.
Meliá Hotels International SA (BME:MEL) generated a below-average return on equity of 8.64% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 13.34%. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into MEL’s past performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of MEL’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this.
Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability
Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Meliá Hotels International’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. If investors diversify their portfolio by industry, they may want to maximise their return in the Hotels, Resorts and Cruise Lines sector by investing in the highest returning stock. However, this can be misleading as each firm has different costs of equity and debt levels i.e. the more debt Meliá Hotels International has, the higher ROE is pumped up in the short term, at the expense of long term interest payment burden.
Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity
ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Meliá Hotels International’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 10.93%. Given a discrepancy of -2.29% between return and cost, this indicated that Meliá Hotels International may be paying more for its capital than what it’s generating in return. ROE can be split up into three useful ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:
ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage
ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)
ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity
Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Meliá Hotels International’s asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. ROE can be inflated by disproportionately high levels of debt. This is also unsustainable due to the high interest cost that the company will also incur. Thus, we should look at Meliá Hotels International’s debt-to-equity ratio to examine sustainability of its returns. Currently the ratio stands at 61.25%, which is reasonable. This means Meliá Hotels International has not taken on too much leverage, and its current ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a huge debt burden.
ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Meliá Hotels International’s below-industry ROE is disappointing, furthermore, its returns were not even high enough to cover its own cost of equity. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.
For Meliá Hotels International, there are three key aspects you should further research:
- Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
- Valuation: What is Meliá Hotels International worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Meliá Hotels International is currently mispriced by the market.
- Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Meliá Hotels International? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!
To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at email@example.com.