While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE) and why it is important. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Sinopec Oilfield Service Corporation (HKG:1033).
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 To Calculate Return On Equity?
Return on equity 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 Sinopec Oilfield Service is:
6.1% = CN¥427m ÷ CN¥7.0b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every HK$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn HK$0.06 in profit.
Does Sinopec Oilfield Service Have A Good ROE?
One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. You can see in the graphic below that Sinopec Oilfield Service has an ROE that is fairly close to the average for the Energy Services industry (6.5%).
That's neither particularly good, nor bad. Even if the ROE is respectable when compared to the industry, its worth checking if the firm's ROE is being aided by high debt levels. If true, then it is more an indication of risk than the potential. Our risks dashboardshould have the 2 risks we have identified for Sinopec Oilfield Service.
How Does Debt Impact ROE?
Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. In the latter case, the use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.
Combining Sinopec Oilfield Service's Debt And Its 6.1% Return On Equity
Sinopec Oilfield Service does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 2.96. With a fairly low ROE, and significant use of debt, it's hard to get excited about this business at the moment. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.
Return on equity is one way we can compare its business quality of different companies. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.
Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
But note: Sinopec Oilfield Service may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.
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