Boasting A 16% Return On Equity, Is Zhejiang Expressway Co., Ltd. (HKG:576) A Top Quality Stock?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 17, 2021
SEHK:576
Source: Shutterstock

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. To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we'll use ROE to better understand Zhejiang Expressway Co., Ltd. (HKG:576).

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

Check out our latest analysis for Zhejiang Expressway

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 Zhejiang Expressway is:

16% = CN¥6.6b ÷ CN¥41b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every HK$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of HK$0.16.

Does Zhejiang Expressway Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, Zhejiang Expressway has a higher ROE than the average (9.3%) in the Infrastructure industry.

roe
SEHK:576 Return on Equity October 18th 2021

That's clearly a positive. However, bear in mind that a high ROE doesn’t necessarily indicate efficient profit generation. A higher proportion of debt in a company's capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk .

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Combining Zhejiang Expressway's Debt And Its 16% Return On Equity

Zhejiang Expressway does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 1.69. While its ROE is pretty respectable, the amount of debt the company is carrying currently is not ideal. Investors should think carefully about how a company might perform if it was unable to borrow so easily, because credit markets do change over time.

Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

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. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth -- and how much investment is required going forward. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.

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