Taking A Look At Enel SpA's (BIT:ENEL) ROE

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 15, 2022
BIT:ENEL
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). We'll use ROE to examine Enel SpA (BIT:ENEL), by way of a worked example.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for Enel

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 Enel is:

7.3% = €3.2b ÷ €44b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each €1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made €0.07 in profit.

Does Enel 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. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see Enel has a similar ROE to the average in the Electric Utilities industry classification (8.5%).

roe
BIT:ENEL Return on Equity January 15th 2022

So while the ROE is not exceptional, at least its acceptable. While at least the ROE is not lower than the industry, its still worth checking what role the company's debt plays as high debt levels relative to equity may also make the ROE appear high. If a company takes on too much debt, it is at higher risk of defaulting on interest payments. To know the 4 risks we have identified for Enel visit our risks dashboard for free.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. 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.

Enel's Debt And Its 7.3% ROE

Enel does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 1.53. With a fairly low ROE, and significant use of debt, it's hard to get excited about this business at the moment. 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.

Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. 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. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So you might want to take a peek at this data-rich interactive graph of 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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