Should We Be Delighted With Universal Health Realty Income Trust’s (NYSE:UHT) ROE Of 10%?

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. We’ll use ROE to examine Universal Health Realty Income Trust (NYSE:UHT), 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.

Check out our latest analysis for Universal Health Realty Income Trust

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 Universal Health Realty Income Trust is:

10% = US$19m ÷ US$182m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).

The ‘return’ is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders’ capital it has, the company made $0.10 in profit.

Does Universal Health Realty Income Trust 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, Universal Health Realty Income Trust has a better ROE than the average (5.8%) in the REITs industry.

NYSE:UHT Past Revenue and Net Income April 15th 2020
NYSE:UHT Past Revenue and Net Income April 15th 2020

That’s what we like to see. Bear in mind, a high ROE doesn’t always mean superior financial performance. A higher proportion of debt in a company’s capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk . To know the 3 risks we have identified for Universal Health Realty Income Trust visit our risks dashboard for free.

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. 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 used for growth will improve returns, but won’t affect the total equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Combining Universal Health Realty Income Trust’s Debt And Its 10% Return On Equity

It’s worth noting the high use of debt by Universal Health Realty Income Trust, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.51. Its ROE is quite low, even with the use of significant debt; that’s not a good result, in our opinion. 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 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. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

But note: Universal Health Realty Income Trust may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.