With An ROE Of 7.62%, Has MPLX LP’s (NYSE:MPLX) Management Done Well?

MPLX LP’s (NYSE:MPLX) most recent return on equity was a substandard 7.62% relative to its industry performance of 10.65% over the past year. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into MPLX’s past performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of MPLX’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. See our latest analysis for MPLX

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.08 in earnings from this. Investors that are diversifying their portfolio based on industry may want to maximise their return in the Oil and Gas Storage and Transportation sector by choosing the highest returning stock. However, this can be deceiving as each company has varying costs of equity and debt levels, which could exaggeratedly push up ROE at the same time as accumulating high interest expense.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of MPLX’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 9.43%. Since MPLX’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -1.81%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, MPLX pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be broken down into three different ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

NYSE:MPLX Last Perf Mar 16th 18
NYSE:MPLX Last Perf Mar 16th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from MPLX’s asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. We can determine if MPLX’s ROE is inflated by borrowing high levels of debt. Generally, a balanced capital structure means its returns will be sustainable over the long run. We can examine this by looking at MPLX’s debt-to-equity ratio. The ratio currently stands at a sensible 66.81%, meaning MPLX has not taken on excessive debt to drive its returns. The company is able to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NYSE:MPLX Historical Debt Mar 16th 18
NYSE:MPLX Historical Debt Mar 16th 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. MPLX exhibits a weak ROE against its peers, as well as insufficient levels to cover its own cost of equity this year. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of MPLX’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For MPLX, I’ve put together three relevant aspects you should look at: