Declining Stock and Decent Financials: Is The Market Wrong About eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY)?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 24, 2022
NasdaqGS:EBAY
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eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has had a rough three months with its share price down 26%. However, the company's fundamentals look pretty decent, and long-term financials are usually aligned with future market price movements. In this article, we decided to focus on eBay's ROE.

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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for eBay

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 eBay is:

18% = US$2.0b ÷ US$11b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.18.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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.

eBay's Earnings Growth And 18% ROE

To begin with, eBay seems to have a respectable ROE. And on comparing with the industry, we found that the the average industry ROE is similar at 21%. However, while eBay has a pretty respectable ROE, its five year net income decline rate was 20% . We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. For example, it could be that the company has a high payout ratio or the business has allocated capital poorly, for instance.

So, as a next step, we compared eBay's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 29% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NasdaqGS:EBAY Past Earnings Growth January 24th 2022

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. 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. Has the market priced in the future outlook for EBAY? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is eBay Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

When we piece together eBay's low three-year median payout ratio of 20% (where it is retaining 80% of its profits), calculated for the last three-year period, we are puzzled by the lack of growth. This typically shouldn't be the case when a company is retaining most of its earnings. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For example, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Additionally, eBay has paid dividends over a period of three years, which means that the company's management is rather focused on keeping up its dividend payments, regardless of the shrinking earnings. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 19% of its profits over the next three years. However, eBay's ROE is predicted to rise to 33% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.

Summary

In total, it does look like eBay has some positive aspects to its business. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE and and a high reinvestment rate. We believe that there might be some outside factors that could be having a negative impact on the business. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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