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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 Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni (BIT:TRN), by way of a worked example.
Our data shows Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni has a return on equity of 17% for the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every €1 worth of equity in the company, it was able to earn €0.17.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders’ Equity
Or for Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni:
17% = €710m ÷ €4.2b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)
It’s easy to understand the ‘net profit’ part of that equation, but ‘shareholders’ equity’ requires further explanation. It is all earnings retained by the company, plus any capital paid in by shareholders. The easiest way to calculate shareholders’ equity is to subtract the company’s total liabilities from the total assets.
What Does ROE Mean?
Return on Equity measures a company’s profitability against the profit it has kept for the business (plus any capital injections). The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, all else being equal, a high ROE is better than a low one. Clearly, then, one can use ROE to compare different companies.
Does Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni Have A Good ROE?
Arguably the easiest way to assess company’s ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni has a higher ROE than the average (8.4%) in the Electric Utilities industry.
That’s what I like to see. We think a high ROE, alone, is usually enough to justify further research into a company. For example you might check if insiders are buying shares.
The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity
Most companies need money — from somewhere — to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, 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.
Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni’s Debt And Its 17% ROE
It’s worth noting the significant use of debt by Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 2.22. Its ROE is quite good but, it would have probably been lower without the use of debt. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.
Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. In my book the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. 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. 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: Terna – Rete Elettrica Nazionale Società per Azioni 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.
We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.