John Wiley & Sons, Inc.'s (NYSE:JW.A) Fundamentals Look Pretty Strong: Could The Market Be Wrong About The Stock?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 14, 2021
NYSE:JW.A
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With its stock down 14% over the past week, it is easy to disregard John Wiley & Sons (NYSE:JW.A). 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. In this article, we decided to focus on John Wiley & Sons' 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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for John Wiley & Sons

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 John Wiley & Sons is:

14% = US$148m ÷ US$1.1b (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2021).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.14 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. 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.

John Wiley & Sons' Earnings Growth And 14% ROE

To start with, John Wiley & Sons' ROE looks acceptable. Even when compared to the industry average of 15% the company's ROE looks quite decent. For this reason, John Wiley & Sons' five year net income decline of 20% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. So, there might be some other aspects that could explain this. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

That being said, we compared John Wiley & Sons' performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 2.7% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:JW.A Past Earnings Growth June 15th 2021

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is JW.A fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is John Wiley & Sons Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 39% (that is, a retention ratio of 61%), the fact that John Wiley & Sons' earnings have shrunk is quite puzzling. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

In addition, John Wiley & Sons 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. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 47% over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for John Wiley & Sons is speculated to rise to 20% despite the anticipated increase in the payout ratio. There could probably be other factors that could be driving the future growth in the ROE.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that John Wiley & Sons certainly does have some positive factors to consider. However, given the high ROE and high profit retention, we would expect the company to be delivering strong earnings growth, but that isn't the case here. This suggests that there might be some external threat to the business, that's hampering its 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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