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Will Bank of Communications Co Ltd (HKG:3328) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Seth Doty

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to better understand how you can grow your money by investing in Bank of Communications Co Ltd (HKG:3328).

Bank of Communications Co Ltd’s (HKG:3328) most recent return on equity was a substandard 10.69% relative to its industry performance of 11.76% over the past year. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into 3328’s past performance. I will take you through how metrics such as financial leverage impact ROE which may affect the overall sustainability of 3328’s returns. Check out our latest analysis for Bank of Communications

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Bank of Communications’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests HK$1 in the form of equity, it will generate HK$0.11 in earnings from this. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Bank of Communications’s cost of equity is 9.87%. Bank of Communications’s ROE exceeds its cost by 0.82%, which is a big tick. Some of its peers with higher ROE may face a cost which exceeds returns, which is unsustainable and far less desirable than Bank of Communications’s case of positive discrepancy. ROE can be dissected into three distinct 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

SEHK:3328 Last Perf June 21st 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Bank of Communications can make from its asset base. Finally, financial leverage will be our main focus today. It shows how much of assets are funded by equity and can show how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Bank of Communications’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at over 2.5 times, meaning the below-average ratio is already being driven by a large amount of debt.

SEHK:3328 Historical Debt June 21st 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. While Bank of Communications exhibits a weak ROE against its peers, its returns are sufficient enough to cover its cost of equity. Also, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Bank of Communications, I’ve put together three relevant factors you should further examine:

  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. Valuation: What is Bank of Communications worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Bank of Communications is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Bank of Communications? 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.