HNI Corporation's (NYSE:HNI) Has Been On A Rise But Financial Prospects Look Weak: Is The Stock Overpriced?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
March 17, 2021
NYSE:HNI

HNI (NYSE:HNI) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 13% over the last three months. However, in this article, we decided to focus on its weak fundamentals, as long-term financial performance of a business is what ultimatley dictates market outcomes. In this article, we decided to focus on HNI's ROE.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for HNI

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for HNI is:

7.1% = US$42m ÷ US$591m (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2021).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.07 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. 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.

A Side By Side comparison of HNI's Earnings Growth And 7.1% ROE

At first glance, HNI's ROE doesn't look very promising. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 9.2%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 5.9% seen by HNI over the last five years is not surprising. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.

That being said, we compared HNI's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 9.2% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:HNI Past Earnings Growth March 17th 2021

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. 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. Is HNI fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is HNI Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

HNI has a high three-year median payout ratio of 57% (that is, it is retaining 43% of its profits). This suggests that the company is paying most of its profits as dividends to its shareholders. This goes some way in explaining why its earnings have been shrinking. The business is only left with a small pool of capital to reinvest - A vicious cycle that doesn't benefit the company in the long-run. To know the 3 risks we have identified for HNI visit our risks dashboard for free.

Moreover, HNI 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.

Conclusion

On the whole, HNI's performance is quite a big let-down. The company has seen a lack of earnings growth as a result of retaining very little profits and whatever little it does retain, is being reinvested at a very low rate of return. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. 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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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.
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