Stock Analysis

Can Mixed Fundamentals Have A Negative Impact on Robert Walters plc (LON:RWA) Current Share Price Momentum?

Robert Walters' (LON:RWA) stock is up by a considerable 14% over the past three months. However, we wonder if the company's inconsistent financials would have any adverse impact on the current share price momentum. In this article, we decided to focus on Robert Walters' ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

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How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity 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 Robert Walters is:

3.4% = UK£5.7m ÷ UK£169m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each £1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made £0.03 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

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

Robert Walters' Earnings Growth And 3.4% ROE

On the face of it, Robert Walters' ROE is not much to talk about. 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%. As a result, Robert Walters reported a very low income growth of 4.7% over the past five years.

As a next step, we compared Robert Walters' net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 11% in the same period.

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Robert Walters is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Robert Walters Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

While Robert Walters has a decent three-year median payout ratio of 28% (or a retention ratio of 72%), it has seen very little growth in earnings. So there could be some other explanation in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Moreover, Robert Walters has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 44% over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for Robert Walters is speculated to rise to 17% despite the anticipated increase in the payout ratio. There could probably be other factors that could be driving the future growth in the ROE.

Summary

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Robert Walters' performance. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings are expected to accelerate. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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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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