Can Universal Health Realty Income Trust's (NYSE:UHT) ROE Continue To Surpass The Industry Average?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
February 09, 2021
NYSE:UHT

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). By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Universal Health Realty Income Trust (NYSE:UHT).

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

Check out our latest analysis for Universal Health Realty Income Trust

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 Universal Health Realty Income Trust is:

12% = US$20m ÷ US$162m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.12.

Does Universal Health Realty Income Trust Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Universal Health Realty Income Trust has a better ROE than the average (5.5%) in the REITs industry.

roe
NYSE:UHT Return on Equity February 9th 2021

That's what we like to see. With that said, a high ROE doesn't always indicate high profitability. Aside from changes in net income, a high ROE can also be the outcome of high debt relative to equity, which indicates risk. Our risks dashboardshould have the 2 risks we have identified for Universal Health Realty Income Trust.

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 case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Universal Health Realty Income Trust's Debt And Its 12% ROE

Universal Health Realty Income Trust clearly uses a high amount of debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 1.79. There's no doubt its ROE is decent, but the very high debt the company carries is not too exciting to see. 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.

Conclusion

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. Check the past profit growth by Universal Health Realty Income Trust by looking at this visualization of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Of course Universal Health Realty Income Trust 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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