Mueller Industries (NYSE:MLI) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 28% over the last three months. As most would know, fundamentals are what usually guide market price movements over the long-term, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Mueller Industries' ROE today.
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.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for return on equity is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Mueller Industries is:
18% = US$136m ÷ US$739m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.18 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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 everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.
Mueller Industries' Earnings Growth And 18% ROE
To start with, Mueller Industries' ROE looks acceptable. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 11% the company's ROE looks pretty remarkable. Despite this, Mueller Industries' five year net income growth was quite low averaging at only 4.6%. That's a bit unexpected from a company which has such a high rate of return. We reckon that a low growth, when returns are quite high could be the result of certain circumstances like low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Mueller Industries' reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 9.4% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.
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. If you're wondering about Mueller Industries''s valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.
Is Mueller Industries Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
A low three-year median payout ratio of 23% (implying that the company retains the remaining 77% of its income) suggests that Mueller Industries is retaining most of its profits. However, the low earnings growth number doesn't reflect this as high growth usually follows high profit retention. So there could be some other explanation in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.
Moreover, Mueller Industries has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth.
In total, it does look like Mueller Industries has some positive aspects to its business. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE and and a high reinvestment rate. We believe that there might be some outside factors that could be having a negative impact on the business. While we won't completely dismiss the company, what we would do, is try to ascertain how risky the business is to make a more informed decision around the company. Our risks dashboard would have the 2 risks we have identified for Mueller Industries.
If you decide to trade Mueller Industries, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.