Are Telecom Plus PLC's (LON:TEP) Mixed Financials Driving The Negative Sentiment?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 19, 2020
LSE:TEP

Telecom Plus (LON:TEP) has had a rough three months with its share price down 6.2%. It seems that the market might have completely ignored the positive aspects of the company's fundamentals and decided to weigh-in more on the negative aspects. Long-term fundamentals are usually what drive market outcomes, so it's worth paying close attention. Specifically, we decided to study Telecom Plus' ROE in this article.

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.

View our latest analysis for Telecom Plus

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

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 Telecom Plus is:

16% = UK£36m ÷ UK£222m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every £1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn £0.16 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For 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. 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.

Telecom Plus' Earnings Growth And 16% ROE

To start with, Telecom Plus' ROE looks acceptable. Further, the company's ROE compares quite favorably to the industry average of 9.6%. Yet, Telecom Plus has posted measly growth of 2.4% over the past five years. That's a bit unexpected from a company which has such a high rate of return. We reckon that a low growth, when returns are quite high could be the result of certain circumstances like low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

As a next step, we compared Telecom Plus' net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 7.6% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
LSE:TEP Past Earnings Growth October 19th 2020

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. 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 TEP? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Telecom Plus Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Telecom Plus' very high three-year median payout ratio of 126% suggests that the company is paying its shareholders more than what it is earning and it definitely contributes to the low earnings growth seen by the company. That's a huge risk in our books. You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Telecom Plus by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

In addition, Telecom Plus 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 94% over the next three years.

Summary

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Telecom Plus' performance. In spite of the high ROE, the company has failed to see growth in its earnings due to it paying out most of its profits as dividend, with almost nothing left to invest into its own business. Until now, we have only just grazed the surface of the company's past performance by looking at the company's fundamentals. So it may be worth checking this free detailed graph of Telecom Plus' past earnings, as well as revenue and cash flows to get a deeper insight into the company's performance.

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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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