Should We Be Cautious About Petco Health and Wellness Company, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:WOOF) ROE Of 7.1%?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
May 23, 2022
NasdaqGS:WOOF
Source: Shutterstock

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. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Petco Health and Wellness Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:WOOF).

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.

See our latest analysis for Petco Health and Wellness Company

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

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 Petco Health and Wellness Company is:

7.1% = US$160m ÷ US$2.3b (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2022).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.07 in profit.

Does Petco Health and Wellness Company 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. If you look at the image below, you can see Petco Health and Wellness Company has a lower ROE than the average (33%) in the Specialty Retail industry classification.

roe
NasdaqGS:WOOF Return on Equity May 23rd 2022

That certainly isn't ideal. However, a low ROE is not always bad. If the company's debt levels are moderate to low, then there's still a chance that returns can be improved via the use of financial leverage. A company with high debt levels and low ROE is a combination we like to avoid given the risk involved. Our risks dashboard should have the 2 risks we have identified for Petco Health and Wellness Company.

Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, 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. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Combining Petco Health and Wellness Company's Debt And Its 7.1% Return On Equity

While Petco Health and Wellness Company does have some debt, with a debt to equity ratio of just 0.76, we wouldn't say debt is excessive. Its ROE isn't particularly impressive, but the debt levels are quite modest, so the business probably has some real potential. Conservative use of debt to boost returns is usually a good move for shareholders, though it does leave the company more exposed to interest rate rises.

Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. 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. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Petco Health and Wellness Company 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.

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