Is Affluent Foundation Holdings Limited’s (HKG:1757) ROE Of 19.7% Sustainable?

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to begin learning the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Affluent Foundation Holdings Limited (HKG:1757) outperformed the construction and engineering industry on the basis of its ROE – producing a higher 19.7% relative to the peer average of 11.4% over the past 12 months. However, whether this above-industry ROE is actually impressive depends on if it can be maintained. This can be measured by looking at the company’s financial leverage. With more debt, 1757 can invest even more and earn more money, thus pushing up its returns. However, ROE only measures returns against equity, not debt. This can be distorted, so let’s take a look at it further.

Check out our latest analysis for Affluent Foundation Holdings

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Affluent Foundation Holdings’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 19.7% implies HK$0.20 returned on every HK$1 invested, so the higher the return, the better. If investors diversify their portfolio by industry, they may want to maximise their return in the Construction and Engineering sector by investing in the highest returning stock. But this can be misleading as each company has different costs of equity and also varying debt levels, which could artificially push up ROE whilst accumulating high interest expense.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Affluent Foundation Holdings’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 8.4%. Since Affluent Foundation Holdings’s return covers its cost in excess of 11.2%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Affluent Foundation Holdings pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be dissected into three distinct ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

SEHK:1757 Last Perf August 27th 18
SEHK:1757 Last Perf August 27th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Affluent Foundation Holdings can make from its asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. We can assess whether Affluent Foundation Holdings is fuelling ROE by excessively raising debt. Ideally, Affluent Foundation Holdings should have a balanced capital structure, which we can check by looking at the historic debt-to-equity ratio of the company. Currently the ratio stands at 35.2%, which is very low. This means Affluent Foundation Holdings has not taken on leverage, and its above-average ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a huge debt burden.

SEHK:1757 Historical Debt August 27th 18
SEHK:1757 Historical Debt August 27th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Affluent Foundation Holdings exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of high returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Affluent Foundation Holdings, I’ve compiled three key aspects you should look at:

  1. Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Future Earnings: How does Affluent Foundation Holdings’s growth rate compare to its peers and the wider market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for the upcoming years by interacting with our free analyst growth expectation chart.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Affluent Foundation Holdings? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.