Olam Group Limited (SGX:VC2) Has A ROE Of 8.9%

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 10, 2022
SGX:VC2
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). To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we'll use ROE to better understand Olam Group Limited (SGX:VC2).

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

View our latest analysis for Olam Group

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE 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 Olam Group is:

8.9% = S$603m ÷ S$6.8b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each SGD1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made SGD0.09 in profit.

Does Olam Group 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. The image below shows that Olam Group has an ROE that is roughly in line with the Consumer Retailing industry average (9.2%).

roe
SGX:VC2 Return on Equity May 10th 2022

That's neither particularly good, nor bad. Even if the ROE is respectable when compared to the industry, its worth checking if the firm's ROE is being aided by high debt levels. If true, then it is more an indication of risk than the potential. You can see the 4 risks we have identified for Olam Group by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

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 case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining Olam Group's Debt And Its 8.9% Return On Equity

Olam Group clearly uses a high amount of debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 2.33. Its ROE is quite low, even with the use of significant debt; that's not a good result, in our opinion. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

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. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. Check the past profit growth by Olam Group by looking at this visualization of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course Olam Group 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.

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