Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). We'll use ROE to examine Prestige Consumer Healthcare Inc. (NYSE:PBH), by way of a worked example.
Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Prestige Consumer Healthcare is:
13% = US$163m ÷ US$1.3b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.13.
Does Prestige Consumer Healthcare Have A Good ROE?
By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see Prestige Consumer Healthcare has a lower ROE than the average (18%) in the Pharmaceuticals industry classification.
Unfortunately, that's sub-optimal. However, a low ROE is not always bad. If the company's debt levels are moderate to low, then there's still a chance that returns can be improved via the use of financial leverage. A company with high debt levels and low ROE is a combination we like to avoid given the risk involved.
How Does Debt Impact ROE?
Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.
Prestige Consumer Healthcare's Debt And Its 13% ROE
It's worth noting the high use of debt by Prestige Consumer Healthcare, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.21. While its ROE is respectable, it is worth keeping in mind that there is usually a limit as to how much debt a company can use. Investors should think carefully about how a company might perform if it was unable to borrow so easily, because credit markets do change over time.
Return on equity is one way we can compare its business quality of different companies. In our books, the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. If two companies have around the same level of debt to equity, and one has a higher ROE, I'd generally prefer the one with higher ROE.
But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
Of course Prestige Consumer Healthcare may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.
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What are the risks and opportunities for Prestige Consumer Healthcare?
Trading at 42.5% below our estimate of its fair value
Earnings are forecast to grow 5.13% per year
Earnings grew by 11.4% over the past year
Debt is not well covered by operating cash flow
Significant insider selling over the past 3 months
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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Prestige Consumer Healthcare
Prestige Consumer Healthcare Inc., together with its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells over-the-counter (OTC) health and personal care products in the United States and internationally.
Undervalued with proven track record.