Stock Analysis

Should We Be Delighted With Whirlpool Corporation's (NYSE:WHR) ROE Of 23%?

NYSE:WHR
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Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). We'll use ROE to examine Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR), by way of a worked example.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for Whirlpool

How Is ROE Calculated?

Return on equity 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 Whirlpool is:

23% = US$1.1b ÷ US$4.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.23 in profit.

Does Whirlpool Have A Good Return On Equity?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Whirlpool has a better ROE than the average (17%) in the Consumer Durables industry.

roe
NYSE:WHR Return on Equity April 7th 2021

That's clearly a positive. With that said, a high ROE doesn't always indicate high profitability. A higher proportion of debt in a company's capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk . You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Whirlpool by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Whirlpool's Debt And Its 23% ROE

Whirlpool does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 1.14. Its ROE is pretty impressive but, it would have probably been lower without the use of debt. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

Conclusion

Return on equity is one way we can compare its business quality of different companies. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Whirlpool may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

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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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