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. We’ll use ROE to examine BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek SA (WSE:BML), by way of a worked example.
Over the last twelve months BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek has recorded a ROE of 20%. That means that for every PLN1 worth of shareholders’ equity, it generated PLN0.20 in profit.
How Do You Calculate ROE?
The formula for return on equity is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders’ Equity
Or for BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek:
20% = zł12m ÷ zł61m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)
Most know that net profit is the total earnings after all expenses, but the concept of shareholders’ equity is a little more complicated. It is the capital paid in by shareholders, plus any retained earnings. The easiest way to calculate shareholders’ equity is to subtract the company’s total liabilities from the total assets.
What Does ROE Signify?
ROE measures a company’s profitability against the profit it retains, and any outside investments. The ‘return’ is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. A higher profit will lead to a higher ROE. So, all else being equal, a high ROE is better than a low one. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.
Does BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek Have A Good ROE?
By comparing a company’s ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek has a higher ROE than the average (17%) in the biotechs industry.
That’s clearly a positive. In my book, a high ROE almost always warrants a closer look. For example you might check if insiders are buying shares.
How Does Debt Impact ROE?
Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, 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.
BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek’s Debt And Its 20% ROE
BIOMED-LUBLIN Wytwórnia Surowic i Szczepionek has a debt to equity ratio of 0.21, which is far from excessive. Its very respectable ROE, combined with only modest debt, suggests the business is in good shape. Judicious use of debt to improve returns can certainly be a good thing, although it does elevate risk slightly and reduce future optionality.
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. In my book the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. 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. 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. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
If you would prefer check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.