Weak Financial Prospects Seem To Be Dragging Down Steelcase Inc. (NYSE:SCS) Stock

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 29, 2021
NYSE:SCS
Source: Shutterstock

Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) has had a rough three months with its share price down 17%. To decide if this trend could continue, we decided to look at its weak fundamentals as they shape the long-term market trends. In this article, we decided to focus on Steelcase's ROE.

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.

See our latest analysis for Steelcase

How To 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 Steelcase is:

0.6% = US$5.3m ÷ US$901m (Based on the trailing twelve months to August 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.01.

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. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. 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.

A Side By Side comparison of Steelcase's Earnings Growth And 0.6% ROE

It is quite clear that Steelcase's ROE is rather low. Not just that, even compared to the industry average of 11%, the company's ROE is entirely unremarkable. For this reason, Steelcase's five year net income decline of 13% is not surprising given its lower ROE. However, there could also be other factors causing the earnings to decline. For example, the business has allocated capital poorly, or that the company has a very high payout ratio.

So, as a next step, we compared Steelcase's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 8.4% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:SCS Past Earnings Growth November 30th 2021

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. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Steelcase is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Steelcase Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 51% (implying that 49% of the profits are retained), most of Steelcase's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent. Our risks dashboard should have the 3 risks we have identified for Steelcase.

Moreover, Steelcase 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. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 71% over the next three years.

Summary

On the whole, Steelcase's performance is quite a big let-down. As a result of its low ROE and lack of much reinvestment into the business, the company has seen a disappointing earnings growth rate. 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. 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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