ADTRAN, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:ADTN) Has Been On A Rise But Financial Prospects Look Weak: Is The Stock Overpriced?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
August 28, 2021
NasdaqGS:ADTN
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ADTRAN's (NASDAQ:ADTN) stock is up by a considerable 24% over the past three months. We, however wanted to have a closer look at its key financial indicators as the markets usually pay for long-term fundamentals, and in this case, they don't look very promising. Particularly, we will be paying attention to ADTRAN's ROE today.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for ADTRAN

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity 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 ADTRAN is:

4.7% = US$18m ÷ US$376m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.05 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of ADTRAN's Earnings Growth And 4.7% ROE

On the face of it, ADTRAN's ROE is not much to talk about. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 14%. For this reason, ADTRAN's five year net income decline of 46% is not surprising given its lower ROE. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.

That being said, we compared ADTRAN's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 1.7% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NasdaqGS:ADTN Past Earnings Growth August 29th 2021

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). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if ADTRAN is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is ADTRAN Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

ADTRAN's declining earnings is not surprising given how the company is spending most of its profits in paying dividends, judging by its LTM (or last twelve month) payout ratio of 99% (or a retention ratio of 1.3%). The business is only left with a small pool of capital to reinvest - A vicious cycle that doesn't benefit the company in the long-run. To know the 2 risks we have identified for ADTRAN visit our risks dashboard for free.

Additionally, ADTRAN has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 35% over the next three years.

Summary

Overall, we would be extremely cautious before making any decision on ADTRAN. Particularly, its ROE is a huge disappointment, not to mention its lack of proper reinvestment into the business. As a result its earnings growth has also been quite disappointing. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow 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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