Is Piaggio & C. SpA's (BIT:PIA) 16% ROE Strong Compared To Its Industry?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 19, 2021
BIT:PIA
Source: Shutterstock

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we'll use ROE to better understand Piaggio & C. SpA (BIT:PIA).

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Piaggio & C

How Do You 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 Piaggio & C is:

16% = €66m ÷ €412m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. That means that for every €1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated €0.16 in profit.

Does Piaggio & C Have A Good Return On Equity?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see Piaggio & C has a similar ROE to the average in the Auto industry classification (14%).

roe
BIT:PIA Return on Equity August 20th 2021

That's neither particularly good, nor bad. Although the ROE is similar to the industry, we should still perform further checks to see if the company's ROE is being boosted by high debt levels. If so, this increases its exposure to financial risk. You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Piaggio & C by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Piaggio & C's Debt And Its 16% ROE

It's worth noting the high use of debt by Piaggio & C, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.47. While its ROE is respectable, it is worth keeping in mind that there is usually a limit as to how much debt a company can use. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have around the same level of debt to equity, and one has a higher ROE, I'd generally prefer the one with higher ROE.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Piaggio & C 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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