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Atmos Energy Corporation's (NYSE:ATO) Has Had A Decent Run On The Stock market: Are Fundamentals In The Driver's Seat?

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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Atmos Energy's (NYSE:ATO) stock is up by 6.2% over the past three months. As most would know, long-term fundamentals have a strong correlation with market price movements, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. Specifically, we decided to study Atmos Energy's ROE in this article.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

Check out our latest analysis for Atmos Energy

How Is ROE Calculated?

ROE 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 Atmos Energy is:

8.9% = US$601m ÷ US$6.8b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.09 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

A Side By Side comparison of Atmos Energy's Earnings Growth And 8.9% ROE

At first glance, Atmos Energy's ROE doesn't look very promising. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 8.9%. Having said that, Atmos Energy has shown a modest net income growth of 13% over the past five years. Given the slightly low ROE, it is likely that there could be some other aspects that are driving this growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

As a next step, we compared Atmos Energy's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 7.4%.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. 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 Atmos Energy is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Atmos Energy Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Atmos Energy has a three-year median payout ratio of 48%, which implies that it retains the remaining 52% of its profits. This suggests that its dividend is well covered, and given the decent growth seen by the company, it looks like management is reinvesting its earnings efficiently.

Besides, Atmos Energy has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 51% of its profits over the next three years. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 9.0%.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that Atmos Energy has some positive attributes. Despite its low rate of return, the fact that the company reinvests a very high portion of its profits into its business, no doubt contributed to its high earnings growth. That being so, a study of the latest analyst forecasts show that the company is expected to see a slowdown in its future earnings growth. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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@simplywallst.com.