Stock Analysis

# Are Robust Financials Driving The Recent Rally In L.B. Foster Company's (NASDAQ:FSTR) Stock?

•  Updated

L.B. Foster (NASDAQ:FSTR) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 22% over the last three months. Given that the market rewards strong financials in the long-term, we wonder if that is the case in this instance. Specifically, we decided to study L.B. Foster's ROE in this article.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

See our latest analysis for L.B. Foster

### How Do You 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 L.B. Foster is:

15% = US\$26m ÷ US\$177m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every \$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of \$0.15.

### Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

### L.B. Foster's Earnings Growth And 15% ROE

To start with, L.B. Foster's ROE looks acceptable. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 11% the company's ROE looks pretty remarkable. This probably laid the ground for L.B. Foster's significant 61% net income growth seen over the past five years. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. Such as - high earnings retention or an efficient management in place.

As a next step, we compared L.B. Foster's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 7.9%.

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. If you're wondering about L.B. Foster's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

### Is L.B. Foster Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

L.B. Foster doesn't pay any dividend currently which essentially means that it has been reinvesting all of its profits into the business. This definitely contributes to the high earnings growth number that we discussed above.

### Conclusion

In total, we are pretty happy with L.B. Foster's performance. Specifically, we like that the company is reinvesting a huge chunk of its profits at a high rate of return. This of course has caused the company to see substantial growth in its earnings. That being so, according to the latest industry analyst forecasts, the company's earnings are expected to shrink in the future. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

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