This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want to begin learning the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.
With an ROE of 19.50%, Public Joint Stock Company Acron (MCX:AKRN) returned in-line to its own industry which delivered 19.46% over the past year. However, whether this ROE is actually impressive depends on if it can be maintained. Sustainability can be gauged by a company’s financial leverage – the more debt it has, the higher ROE is pumped up in the short term, at the expense of long term interest payment burden. Let me show you what I mean by this.
Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios
Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. Investors that are diversifying their portfolio based on industry may want to maximise their return in the Fertilizers and Agricultural Chemicals sector by choosing the highest returning stock. However, this can be misleading as each firm has different costs of equity and debt levels i.e. the more debt Acron has, the higher ROE is pumped up in the short term, at the expense of long term interest payment burden.
Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity
ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Acron, which is 15.56%. This means Acron returns enough to cover its own cost of equity, with a buffer of 3.94%. This sustainable practice implies that the company pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be split up into three useful ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:
ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage
ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)
ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity
The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Acron can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. ROE can be inflated by disproportionately high levels of debt. This is also unsustainable due to the high interest cost that the company will also incur. Thus, we should look at Acron’s debt-to-equity ratio to examine sustainability of its returns. The most recent ratio is 85.49%, which is sensible and indicates Acron has not taken on too much leverage. Thus, we can conclude its above-average ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.
ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Acron exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of high returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.
For Acron, there are three relevant factors you should further examine:
- Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
- Valuation: What is Acron worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Acron is currently mispriced by the market.
- Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Acron? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!
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.