Sensient Technologies Corporation's (NYSE:SXT) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 11, 2022
NYSE:SXT
Source: Shutterstock

With its stock down 12% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Sensient Technologies (NYSE:SXT). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Sensient Technologies' ROE today.

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. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

See our latest analysis for Sensient Technologies

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Sensient Technologies is:

13% = US$119m ÷ US$938m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.13 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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.

A Side By Side comparison of Sensient Technologies' Earnings Growth And 13% ROE

To start with, Sensient Technologies' ROE looks acceptable. And on comparing with the industry, we found that the the average industry ROE is similar at 15%. However, while Sensient Technologies has a pretty respectable ROE, its five year net income decline rate was 2.4% . We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

So, as a next step, we compared Sensient Technologies' 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 5.7% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:SXT Past Earnings Growth April 11th 2022

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. 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. What is SXT worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether SXT is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Sensient Technologies Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Sensient Technologies' declining earnings is not surprising given how the company is spending most of its profits in paying dividends, judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 56% (or a retention ratio of 44%). The business is only left with a small pool of capital to reinvest - A vicious cycle that doesn't benefit the company in the long-run.

In addition, Sensient Technologies has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 41% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 17% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.

Conclusion

In total, it does look like Sensient Technologies has some positive aspects to its business. However, while the company does have a high ROE, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing. This can be blamed on the fact that it reinvests only a small portion of its profits and pays out the rest as dividends. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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