U.S. markets close in 1 hour 53 minutes
  • S&P 500

    3,737.88
    -81.84 (-2.14%)
     
  • Dow 30

    30,663.50
    -606.59 (-1.94%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,616.56
    -381.20 (-2.93%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,124.80
    -82.99 (-3.76%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    63.98
    +2.70 (+4.41%)
     
  • Gold

    1,689.70
    -26.10 (-1.52%)
     
  • Silver

    25.17
    -1.22 (-4.63%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1977
    -0.0090 (-0.74%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.5450
    +0.0750 (+5.10%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3899
    -0.0054 (-0.38%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    107.8580
    +0.8560 (+0.80%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    47,906.17
    -3,485.52 (-6.78%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    960.41
    -26.80 (-2.71%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,650.88
    -24.59 (-0.37%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,930.11
    -628.99 (-2.13%)
     

With A 7.1% Return On Equity, Is Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) A Quality Stock?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Simply Wall St
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD).

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for Gilead Sciences

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Gilead Sciences is:

7.1% = US$1.2b ÷ US$17b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

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 $0.07 in profit.

Does Gilead Sciences Have A Good Return On Equity?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As shown in the graphic below, Gilead Sciences has a lower ROE than the average (18%) in the Biotechs industry classification.

roe
roe

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 high debt company having a low ROE is a different story altogether and a risky investment in our books. You can see the 4 risks we have identified for Gilead Sciences by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. In the latter case, the use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Gilead Sciences' Debt And Its 7.1% ROE

Gilead Sciences does use a high amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 1.63. The combination of a rather low ROE and significant use of debt is not particularly appealing. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. 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 take a peek at this data-rich interactive graph of forecasts for the company.

But note: Gilead Sciences 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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.