Are Surface Oncology, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:SURF) Fundamentals Good Enough to Warrant Buying Given The Stock's Recent Weakness?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 11, 2022
NasdaqGM:SURF
Source: Shutterstock

Surface Oncology (NASDAQ:SURF) has had a rough three months with its share price down 44%. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. In this article, we decided to focus on Surface Oncology'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.

See our latest analysis for Surface Oncology

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Surface Oncology is:

9.8% = US$13m ÷ US$131m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.10 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

A Side By Side comparison of Surface Oncology's Earnings Growth And 9.8% ROE

When you first look at it, Surface Oncology's ROE doesn't look that attractive. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 15%. In spite of this, Surface Oncology was able to grow its net income considerably, at a rate of 36% in the last five years. We reckon that there could be other factors at play here. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.

As a next step, we compared Surface Oncology's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 22%.

past-earnings-growth
NasdaqGM:SURF Past Earnings Growth January 11th 2022

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. 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 Surface Oncology is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Surface Oncology Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Surface Oncology doesn't pay any dividend currently which essentially means that it has been reinvesting all of its profits into the business. This definitely contributes to the high earnings growth number that we discussed above.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that Surface Oncology has some positive attributes. Despite its low rate of return, the fact that the company reinvests a very high portion of its profits into its business, no doubt contributed to its high 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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