With its stock down 3.4% over the past week, it is easy to disregard Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY). We, however decided to study the company's financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes so it makes sense to study the company's financials. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Weyerhaeuser's ROE today.
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
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 Weyerhaeuser is:
9.1% = US$797m ÷ US$8.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).
The 'return' is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.09 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.
Weyerhaeuser's Earnings Growth And 9.1% ROE
When you first look at it, Weyerhaeuser's ROE doesn't look that attractive. However, the fact that the its ROE is quite higher to the industry average of 5.0% doesn't go unnoticed by us. However, Weyerhaeuser's five year net income decline rate was 3.1%. Bear in mind, the company does have a slightly low ROE. It is just that the industry ROE is lower. Hence, this goes some way in explaining the shrinking earnings.
However, when we compared Weyerhaeuser's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 11% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is WY worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether WY is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Weyerhaeuser Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
Weyerhaeuser has a very high three-year median payout ratio of 84%, implying that it retains only 16% of its profits. However, it's not unusual to see a REIT with such a high payout ratio mainly due to statutory requirements. So this probably explains the company's shrinking earnings.
Moreover, Weyerhaeuser has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 37% over the next three years. However, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much despite the lower expected payout ratio.
Overall, we have mixed feelings about Weyerhaeuser. On the one hand, the company does have a decent rate of return, however, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing and as discussed earlier, the low retained earnings is hampering the growth. With that said, we studied current analyst estimates and discovered that analysts expect the company's earnings growth to improve slightly. The company's existing shareholders might have some respite after all. 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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