With its stock down 7.8% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard RLI (NYSE:RLI). But if you pay close attention, you might gather that its strong financials could mean that the stock could potentially see an increase in value in the long-term, given how markets usually reward companies with good financial health. In this article, we decided to focus on RLI's ROE.
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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
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 RLI is:
25% = US$291m ÷ US$1.2b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.25 in profit.
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. 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. 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.
RLI's Earnings Growth And 25% ROE
First thing first, we like that RLI has an impressive ROE. Second, a comparison with the average ROE reported by the industry of 12% also doesn't go unnoticed by us. This likely paved the way for the modest 9.6% net income growth seen by RLI over the past five years. growth
As a next step, we compared RLI's net income growth with the industry and found that the company has a similar growth figure when compared with the industry average growth rate of 11% in the same period.
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. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. 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 RLI is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is RLI Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
RLI has a healthy combination of a moderate three-year median payout ratio of 33% (or a retention ratio of 67%) and a respectable amount of growth in earnings as we saw above, meaning that the company has been making efficient use of its profits.
Additionally, RLI has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 77% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected increase in the payout ratio explains the expected decline in the company's ROE to 14%, over the same period.
Overall, we are quite pleased with RLI's performance. Particularly, we like that the company is reinvesting heavily into its business, and at a high rate of return. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an impressive earnings growth. That being so, according to the latest industry analyst forecasts, the company's earnings are expected to shrink in the future. 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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