Most readers would already know that Victrex's (LON:VCT) stock increased by 5.3% 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 investigate if the company's decent financials had a hand to play in the recent price move. Specifically, we decided to study Victrex's ROE in this article.
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 other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How Is ROE Calculated?
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 Victrex is:
15% = UK£71m ÷ UK£489m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2023).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings 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.
Why Is ROE Important For 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 Victrex's Earnings Growth And 15% ROE
At first glance, Victrex seems to have a decent ROE. Especially when compared to the industry average of 9.8% the company's ROE looks pretty impressive. For this reason, Victrex's five year net income decline of 12% raises the question as to why the high ROE didn't translate into earnings growth. 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.
So, as a next step, we compared Victrex'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 5.8% over the last few years.
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). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Has the market priced in the future outlook for VCT? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.
Is Victrex Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
With a high three-year median payout ratio of 72% (implying that 28% of the profits are retained), most of Victrex's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. 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.
Moreover, Victrex 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. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 96% over the next three years. Despite the higher expected payout ratio, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much.
In total, it does look like Victrex has some positive aspects to its business. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return. Investors could have benefitted from the high ROE, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings. As discussed earlier, the company is retaining a small portion of its profits. 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 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. 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.