AvalonBay Communities, Inc.'s (NYSE:AVB) Stock is Soaring But Financials Seem Inconsistent: Will The Uptrend Continue?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 01, 2021
NYSE:AVB
Source: Shutterstock

AvalonBay Communities' (NYSE:AVB) stock is up by a considerable 12% over the past three months. However, we decided to pay attention to the company's fundamentals which don't appear to give a clear sign about the company's financial health. Specifically, we decided to study AvalonBay Communities' ROE in this article.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for AvalonBay Communities

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 AvalonBay Communities is:

7.5% = US$802m ÷ US$11b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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 $0.08 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. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

AvalonBay Communities' Earnings Growth And 7.5% ROE

On the face of it, AvalonBay Communities' ROE is not much to talk about. Although a closer study shows that the company's ROE is higher than the industry average of 5.1% which we definitely can't overlook. But seeing AvalonBay Communities' five year net income decline of 2.9% over the past five years, we might rethink that. Bear in mind, the company does have a slightly low ROE. It is just that the industry ROE is lower. Therefore, the decline in earnings could also be the result of this.

So, as a next step, we compared AvalonBay Communities' 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 9.9% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:AVB Past Earnings Growth July 1st 2021

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. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Has the market priced in the future outlook for AVB? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is AvalonBay Communities Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

AvalonBay Communities seems to be paying out most of its income as dividends judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 66% (meaning, the company retains only 34% of profits). However, this is typical for REITs as they are often required by law to distribute most of their earnings. So this probably explains the company's shrinking earnings.

Additionally, AvalonBay Communities has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 77%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 6.1%.

Conclusion

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about AvalonBay Communities' performance. Specifically, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a respectable rate of return. Investors may have benefitted, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings. As discussed earlier, the company is retaining a small portion of its profits. 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. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page 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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