# Are Poor Financial Prospects Dragging Down Colas SA (EPA:RE Stock?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 15, 2021

It is hard to get excited after looking at Colas' (EPA:RE) recent performance, when its stock has declined 5.9% over the past three months. We decided to study the company's financials to determine if the downtrend will continue as the long-term performance of a company usually dictates market outcomes. In this article, we decided to focus on Colas' ROE.

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 Colas

### 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 Colas is:

3.6% = €94m ÷ €2.6b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each €1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made €0.04 in profit.

### What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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. 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 Colas' Earnings Growth And 3.6% ROE

When you first look at it, Colas' ROE doesn't look that attractive. However, given that the company's ROE is similar to the average industry ROE of 4.4%, we may spare it some thought. Having said that, Colas' five year net income decline rate was 14%. Bear in mind, the company does have a slightly low ROE. So that's what might be causing earnings growth to shrink.

Next, when we compared with the industry, which has shrunk its earnings at a rate of 1.4% in the same period, we still found Colas' performance to be quite bleak, because the company has been shrinking its earnings faster than the industry.

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. Is Colas fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

### Is Colas Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Colas' declining earnings is not surprising given how the company is spending most of its profits in paying dividends, judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 87% (or a retention ratio of 13%). The business is only left with a small pool of capital to reinvest - A vicious cycle that doesn't benefit the company in the long-run. To know the 3 risks we have identified for Colas visit our risks dashboard for free.

Additionally, Colas has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth.

### Summary

In total, we would have a hard think before deciding on any investment action concerning Colas. Because the company is not reinvesting much into the business, and given the low ROE, it's not surprising to see the lack or absence of growth in its earnings. Until now, we have only just grazed the surface of the company's past performance by looking at the company's fundamentals. You can do your own research on Colas and see how it has performed in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flows.

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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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