U.S. Markets closed

With A 7.8% Return On Equity, Is Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (NYSE:FIS) A Quality Stock?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Simply Wall St
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. We'll use ROE to examine Fidelity National Information Services, Inc. (NYSE:FIS), by way of a worked example.

Our data shows Fidelity National Information Services has a return on equity of 7.8% for the last year. One way to conceptualize this, is that for each $1 of shareholders' equity it has, the company made $0.08 in profit.

View our latest analysis for Fidelity National Information Services

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders' Equity

Or for Fidelity National Information Services:

7.8% = US$754m ÷ US$10.0b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Most readers would understand what net profit is, but it’s worth explaining the concept of shareholders’ equity. It is the capital paid in by shareholders, plus any retained earnings. The easiest way to calculate shareholders' equity is to subtract the company's total liabilities from the total assets.

What Does Return On Equity Signify?

Return on Equity measures a company's profitability against the profit it has kept for the business (plus any capital injections). The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, all else being equal, a high ROE is better than a low one. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Fidelity National Information Services 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 is clear from the image below, Fidelity National Information Services has a lower ROE than the average (16%) in the IT industry.

NYSE:FIS Past Revenue and Net Income, November 1st 2019
NYSE:FIS Past Revenue and Net Income, November 1st 2019

That's not what we like to see. We'd prefer see an ROE above the industry average, but it might not matter if the company is undervalued. Nonetheless, it could be useful to double-check if insiders have sold shares recently.

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, 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.

Fidelity National Information Services's Debt And Its 7.8% ROE

Fidelity National Information Services does use a significant amount of debt to increase returns. It has a debt to equity ratio of 1.83. While the ROE isn't too bad, it would probably be a lot lower if the company was forced to reduce debt. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

In Summary

Return on equity is one way we can compare the business quality of different companies. In my book the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course Fidelity National Information Services may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.