Can Crown Castle International Corp. (REIT)'s (NYSE:CCI) ROE Continue To Surpass The Industry Average?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
July 25, 2021
NYSE:CCI
Source: Shutterstock

While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE) and why it is important. To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we'll use ROE to better understand Crown Castle International Corp. (REIT) (NYSE:CCI).

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

See our latest analysis for Crown Castle International (REIT)

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

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 Crown Castle International (REIT) is:

13% = US$1.1b ÷ US$8.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.13 in profit.

Does Crown Castle International (REIT) 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. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Crown Castle International (REIT) has a better ROE than the average (5.1%) in the REITs industry.

roe
NYSE:CCI Return on Equity July 25th 2021

That's what we like to see. Bear in mind, a high ROE doesn't always mean superior financial performance. Aside from changes in net income, a high ROE can also be the outcome of high debt relative to equity, which indicates risk. To know the 4 risks we have identified for Crown Castle International (REIT) visit our risks dashboard for free.

Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. 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.

Crown Castle International (REIT)'s Debt And Its 13% ROE

It's worth noting the high use of debt by Crown Castle International (REIT), leading to its debt to equity ratio of 2.28. There's no doubt its ROE is decent, but the very high debt the company carries is not too exciting to see. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. 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.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth -- and how much investment is required going forward. So you might want to take a peek at this data-rich interactive graph of forecasts for the company.

Of course Crown Castle International (REIT) 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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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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