Are Arcosa, Inc.'s (NYSE:ACA) Mixed Financials The Reason For Its Gloomy Performance on The Stock Market?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 24, 2022
NYSE:ACA
Source: Shutterstock

With its stock down 11% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Arcosa (NYSE:ACA). We, however decided to study the company's financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Long-term fundamentals are usually what drive market outcomes, so it's worth paying close attention. In this article, we decided to focus on Arcosa's ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

Check out our latest analysis for Arcosa

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 Arcosa is:

3.7% = US$71m ÷ US$1.9b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.04 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

A Side By Side comparison of Arcosa's Earnings Growth And 3.7% ROE

As you can see, Arcosa's ROE looks pretty weak. Even when compared to the industry average of 9.4%, the ROE figure is pretty disappointing. Hence, the flat earnings seen by Arcosa over the past five years could probably be the result of it having a lower ROE.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that the industry grew its earnings by17% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:ACA Past Earnings Growth January 24th 2022

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Has the market priced in the future outlook for ACA? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Arcosa Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Arcosa has a low three-year median payout ratio of 8.3% (or a retention ratio of 92%) but the negligible earnings growth number doesn't reflect this as high growth usually follows high profit retention.

Moreover, Arcosa has been paying dividends for three years, which is a considerable amount of time, suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 6.3% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 5.3% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.

Summary

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Arcosa's performance. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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