# Axway Software SA's (EPA:AXW) Dismal Stock Performance Reflects Weak Fundamentals

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 21, 2022

It is hard to get excited after looking at Axway Software's (EPA:AXW) recent performance, when its stock has declined 22% 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 Axway Software's ROE.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Axway Software

### How Do You 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 Axway Software is:

4.5% = €16m ÷ €360m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

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 €0.05 in profit.

### What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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. 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.

### Axway Software's Earnings Growth And 4.5% ROE

When you first look at it, Axway Software's ROE doesn't look that attractive. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 12%. Therefore, it might not be wrong to say that the five year net income decline of 36% seen by Axway Software was probably the result of it having a lower ROE. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. For example, it is possible that the business has allocated capital poorly or that the company has a very high payout ratio.

So, as a next step, we compared Axway Software's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 15% in the same period.

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. 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. Is Axway Software fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

### Is Axway Software Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Axway Software's 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 77% (or a retention ratio of 23%). 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. You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Axway Software by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

In addition, Axway Software 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. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 31% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company's ROE to 6.4%, over the same period.

### Summary

On the whole, Axway Software's performance is quite a big let-down. As a result of its low ROE and lack of much reinvestment into the business, the company has seen a disappointing earnings growth rate. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. 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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