Assura's (LON:AGR) stock up by 3.4% over the past week. As most would know, long-term fundamentals have a strong correlation with market price movements, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. In this article, we decided to focus on Assura's ROE.
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?
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 Assura is:
6.1% = UK£79m ÷ UK£1.3b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020).
The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every £1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn £0.06 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. 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.
Assura's Earnings Growth And 6.1% ROE
When you first look at it, Assura's ROE doesn't look that attractive. However, given that the company's ROE is similar to the average industry ROE of 6.0%, we may spare it some thought. Having said that, Assura has shown a modest net income growth of 13% over the past five years. Considering the moderately low ROE, it is quite possible that there might be some other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. Such as - high earnings retention or an efficient management in place.
As a next step, we compared Assura's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 10%.
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. 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 Assura is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is Assura Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Assura has a high three-year median payout ratio of 75%. This means that it has only 25% of its income left to reinvest into its business. However, it's not unusual to see a REIT with such a high payout ratio mainly due to statutory requirements. In spite of this, the company was able to grow its earnings by a fair bit, as we saw above.
Additionally, Assura has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. 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. Therefore, the expected rise in the payout ratio explains why the company's ROE is expected to decline to 4.7% over the same period.
In total, it does look like Assura has some positive aspects to its business. That is, quite an impressive growth in earnings. However, the low profit retention means that the company's earnings growth could have been higher, had it been reinvesting a higher portion of its profits. Having said that, looking at the current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings are expected to gain momentum. 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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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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