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Can Air Lease Corporation (NYSE:AL) Continue To Outperform Its Industry?

Bruce Howe

Air Lease Corporation (NYSE:AL) outperformed the Trading Companies and Distributors industry on the basis of its ROE – producing a higher 18.32% relative to the peer average of 12.22% over the past 12 months. While the impressive ratio tells us that AL has made significant profits from little equity capital, ROE doesn’t tell us if AL has borrowed debt to make this happen. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of AL’s ROE. View our latest analysis for Air Lease

What you must know about ROE

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Air Lease’s cost of equity is 16.32%. Given a positive discrepancy of 2.00% between return and cost, this indicates that Air Lease pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. ROE can be split up into three useful ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

NYSE:AL Last Perf May 10th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Air Lease can generate with its current asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since ROE can be inflated by excessive debt, we need to examine Air Lease’s debt-to-equity level. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a high 234.98%, meaning the above-average ratio is a result of a large amount of debt.

NYSE:AL Historical Debt May 10th 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Air Lease’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. With debt capital in excess of equity, ROE may be inflated by the use of debt funding, raising questions over the sustainability of the company’s returns. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Air Lease, I’ve put together three key factors you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market’s sentiment for Air Lease’s future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Air Lease? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!


To help readers see pass the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned.