Marshalls plc's (LON:MSLH) Stock On An Uptrend: Could Fundamentals Be Driving The Momentum?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
September 08, 2021
LSE:MSLH
Source: Shutterstock

Marshalls' (LON:MSLH) stock is up by a considerable 21% over the past three months. Given that stock prices are usually aligned with a company's financial performance in the long-term, we decided to study its financial indicators more closely to see if they had a hand to play in the recent price move. In this article, we decided to focus on Marshalls' ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

See our latest analysis for Marshalls

How To 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 Marshalls is:

15% = UK£47m ÷ UK£320m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each £1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made £0.15 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. 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 Marshalls' Earnings Growth And 15% ROE

To start with, Marshalls' ROE looks acceptable. Further, the company's ROE compares quite favorably to the industry average of 10%. Needless to say, we are quite surprised to see that Marshalls' net income shrunk at a rate of 6.6% over the past five years. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. For example, it could be that the company has a high payout ratio or the business has allocated capital poorly, for instance.

However, when we compared Marshalls' growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 11% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
LSE:MSLH Past Earnings Growth September 8th 2021

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). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. If you're wondering about Marshalls''s valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Marshalls Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 45% (that is, a retention ratio of 55%), the fact that Marshalls' earnings have shrunk is quite puzzling. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.

In addition, Marshalls 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. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 48% of its profits over the next three years. Still, forecasts suggest that Marshalls' future ROE will rise to 19% even though the the company's payout ratio is not expected to change by much.

Summary

On the whole, we do feel that Marshalls has some positive attributes. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return and is reinvesting ma huge portion of its profits. By the looks of it, there could be some other factors, not necessarily in control of the business, that's preventing growth. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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