Can JCDecaux SA (EPA:DEC) Improve Its Returns?

August 18, 2022
  •  Updated
October 03, 2022
Source: Shutterstock

While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE) and why it is important. We'll use ROE to examine JCDecaux SA (EPA:DEC), by way of a worked example.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

See our latest analysis for JCDecaux

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 JCDecaux is:

9.0% = €151m ÷ €1.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every €1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of €0.09.

Does JCDecaux Have A Good ROE?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, JCDecaux has a lower ROE than the average (13%) in the Media industry.

ENXTPA:DEC Return on Equity August 18th 2022

That's not what we like to see. Although, we think that a lower ROE could still mean that a company has the opportunity to better its returns with the use of leverage, provided its existing debt levels are low. A company with high debt levels and low ROE is a combination we like to avoid given the risk involved.

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt used for growth will improve returns, but won't affect the total equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining JCDecaux's Debt And Its 9.0% Return On Equity

It's worth noting the high use of debt by JCDecaux, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.78. Its ROE is quite low, even with the use of significant debt; that's not a good result, in our opinion. Investors should think carefully about how a company might perform if it was unable to borrow so easily, because credit markets do change over time.


Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. In our books, the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So you might want to take a peek at this data-rich interactive graph of forecasts for the company.

But note: JCDecaux may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

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Find out whether JCDecaux is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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