With its stock down 19% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard NATCO Pharma (NSE:NATCOPHARM). It is possible that the markets have ignored the company's differing financials and decided to lean-in to the negative sentiment. Stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financial performance over the long term, and therefore we decided to pay more attention to the company's financial performance. In this article, we decided to focus on NATCO Pharma's ROE.
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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
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 NATCO Pharma is:
6.5% = ₹2.7b ÷ ₹42b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).
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.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.
A Side By Side comparison of NATCO Pharma's Earnings Growth And 6.5% ROE
It is quite clear that NATCO Pharma's ROE is rather low. Even compared to the average industry ROE of 14%, the company's ROE is quite dismal. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 9.4% seen by NATCO Pharma over the last five years is not surprising. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.
However, when we compared NATCO Pharma's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 22% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.
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. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. 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 NATCO Pharma is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is NATCO Pharma Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
When we piece together NATCO Pharma's low three-year median payout ratio of 25% (where it is retaining 75% of its profits), calculated for the last three-year period, we are puzzled by the lack of growth. The low payout should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings and consequently, should see some growth. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For example, the company's business may be deteriorating.
In addition, NATCO Pharma 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 9.1% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 23% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.
On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by NATCO Pharma can be open to many interpretations. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. 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.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.