Read This Before Judging Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna’s (WSE:PFL) ROE

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. By way of learning-by-doing, we’ll look at ROE to gain a better understanding Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna (WSE:PFL).

Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna has a ROE of 2.1%, based on the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this, is that for each PLN1 of shareholders’ equity it has, the company made PLN0.021 in profit.

See our latest analysis for Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

Or for Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna:

2.1% = €4m ÷ €208m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

It’s easy to understand the ‘net profit’ part of that equation, but ‘shareholders’ equity’ requires further explanation. It is the capital paid in by shareholders, plus any retained earnings. You can calculate shareholders’ equity by subtracting the company’s total liabilities from its total assets.

What Does ROE Mean?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The ‘return’ is the yearly profit. That means that the higher the ROE, the more profitable the company is. So, all else equal, investors should like a high ROE. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna Have A Good Return On Equity?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As shown in the graphic below, Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna has a lower ROE than the average (7.7%) in the forestry industry classification.

WSE:PFL Last Perf October 18th 18
WSE:PFL Last Perf October 18th 18

That’s not what we like to see. We prefer it when the ROE of a company is above the industry average, but it’s not the be-all and end-all if it is lower. Nonetheless, it might be wise to check if insiders have been selling.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

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 use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna’s Debt And Its 2.1% ROE

Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna clearly uses a significant amount debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 1.78. 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.

The Bottom Line On ROE

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 the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

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 Pfleiderer Group Spólka Akcyjna may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.