Did Provident Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:PVBC) Create Value For Shareholders?

Provident Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:PVBC) delivered an ROE of 7.04% over the past 12 months, which is relatively in-line with its industry average of 6.46% during the same period. But what is more interesting is whether PVBC can sustain this level of return. 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. Check out our latest analysis for Provident Bancorp

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Provident Bancorp’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. Investors seeking to maximise their return in the Thrifts and Mortgage Finance industry may want to choose the highest returning stock. But this can be misleading as each company has different costs of equity and also varying debt levels, which could artificially push up ROE whilst accumulating high interest expense.

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 Provident Bancorp, which is 9.97%. Since Provident Bancorp’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -2.92%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, Provident Bancorp pays more 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:

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

NasdaqCM:PVBC Last Perf Jan 24th 18
NasdaqCM:PVBC Last Perf Jan 24th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Provident Bancorp can make from its asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. We can assess whether Provident Bancorp is fuelling ROE by excessively raising debt. Ideally, Provident Bancorp should have a balanced capital structure, which we can check by looking at the historic debt-to-equity ratio of the company. The ratio currently stands at a sensible 67.53%, meaning Provident Bancorp has not taken on excessive debt to drive its returns. The company is able to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NasdaqCM:PVBC Historical Debt Jan 24th 18
NasdaqCM:PVBC Historical Debt Jan 24th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Provident Bancorp’s above-industry ROE is noteworthy, but it was not high enough to cover its own cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of industry-beating returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Provident Bancorp, I’ve put together three essential factors you should look at: