SpartanNash Company's (NASDAQ:SPTN) Stock Is Rallying But Financials Look Ambiguous: Will The Momentum Continue?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
October 22, 2020

Most readers would already be aware that SpartanNash's (NASDAQ:SPTN) stock increased significantly by 25% over the past month. However, we wonder if the company's inconsistent financials would have any adverse impact on the current share price momentum. Specifically, we decided to study SpartanNash's ROE in this article.

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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for SpartanNash

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 SpartanNash is:

6.9% = US$49m ÷ US$709m (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.07 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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. 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 SpartanNash's Earnings Growth And 6.9% ROE

At first glance, SpartanNash's ROE doesn't look very promising. A quick further study shows that the company's ROE doesn't compare favorably to the industry average of 10% either. For this reason, SpartanNash's five year net income decline of 24% is not surprising given its lower ROE. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. Such as - low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

However, when we compared SpartanNash's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 5.4% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

NasdaqGS:SPTN Past Earnings Growth October 22nd 2020

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is SpartanNash fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is SpartanNash Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 36% (where it is retaining 64% of its profits), SpartanNash has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Moreover, SpartanNash 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 42%. Still, forecasts suggest that SpartanNash's future ROE will rise to 8.9% even though the the company's payout ratio is not expected to change by much.

Summary

On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by SpartanNash can be open to many interpretations. While the company does have a high rate of reinvestment, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping any benefit to its investors, and moreover, its having a negative impact on the earnings growth. 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 latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts 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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