It is hard to get excited after looking at Atmos Energy's (NYSE:ATO) recent performance, when its stock has declined 15% over the past three months. 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. 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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Is ROE Calculated?
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 Atmos Energy is:
8.7% = US$532m ÷ US$6.1b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.09 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learnt 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 8.7% ROE
On the face of it, Atmos Energy's ROE is not much to talk about. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 8.4%. Having said that, Atmos Energy has shown a modest net income growth of 14% 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.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Atmos Energy's growth is quite high when compared to the industry average growth of 10% in the same period, which is great to see.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. 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. Is Atmos Energy fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
Is Atmos Energy Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Atmos Energy has a three-year median payout ratio of 50%, which implies that it retains the remaining 50% 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 49%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 9.2%.
In total, it does look like Atmos Energy 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. We also studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that the company's earnings growth is expected be similar to 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.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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