With its stock down 19% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Alcon (VTX:ALC). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Alcon'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.
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 Alcon is:
2.3% = US$457m ÷ US$20b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every CHF1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn CHF0.02 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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.
Alcon's Earnings Growth And 2.3% ROE
On the face of it, Alcon's ROE is not much to talk about. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 9.1%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. However, we we're pleasantly surprised to see that Alcon grew its net income at a significant rate of 29% in the last five years. So, there might be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Alcon's growth is quite high when compared to the industry average growth of 8.1% in the same period, which is great to see.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is ALC worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether ALC is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Alcon Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
Alcon's three-year median payout ratio to shareholders is 23%, which is quite low. This implies that the company is retaining 77% of its profits. This suggests that the management is reinvesting most of the profits to grow the business as evidenced by the growth seen by the company.
While Alcon has been growing its earnings, it only recently started to pay dividends which likely means that the company decided to impress new and existing shareholders with a dividend. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 9.7% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 7.8% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.
In total, it does look like Alcon has some positive aspects to its business. Even in spite of the low rate of return, the company has posted impressive earnings growth as a result of reinvesting heavily into its business. The latest industry analyst forecasts show that the company is expected to maintain its current growth rate. 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.
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