Welltower Inc. (NYSE:WELL) Stock Is Going Strong But Fundamentals Look Uncertain: What Lies Ahead ?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 14, 2021
NYSE:WELL

Welltower's (NYSE:WELL) stock is up by a considerable 16% 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 Welltower's ROE in this article.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

Check out our latest analysis for Welltower

How Do You 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 Welltower is:

6.5% = US$1.1b ÷ US$17b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.06 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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.

A Side By Side comparison of Welltower's Earnings Growth And 6.5% ROE

When you first look at it, Welltower's ROE doesn't look that attractive. However, its ROE is similar to the industry average of 5.4%, so we won't completely dismiss the company. On the other hand, Welltower reported a moderate 5.6% net income growth over the past five years. Considering the moderately low ROE, it is quite possible that there might be some other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Welltower's reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 12% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:WELL Past Earnings Growth January 14th 2021

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. What is WELL worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether WELL is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Welltower Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Welltower has a high three-year median payout ratio of 97%. This means that it has only 3.1% of its income left to reinvest into its business. However, it's not unusual to see a REIT with such a high payout ratio mainly due to statutory requirements. Despite this, the company's earnings grew moderately as we saw above.

Besides, Welltower has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 72% over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for Welltower is predicted to decline to 2.7% despite the anticipated decrease in the payout ratio. We reckon that there could probably be other factors that could be driving the forseen decline in the company's ROE.

Summary

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Welltower's performance. Although the company has shown a fair bit of growth in earnings, the reinvestment rate is low. Meaning, the earnings growth number could have been significantly higher had the company been retaining more of its profits and reinvesting that at a higher rate of return. Having said that, on studying current analyst estimates, we were concerned to see that while the company has grown its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to shrink in the future. 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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