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What is Behind Enerplus Corporation’s (TSE:ERF) Superior ROE?

Devin Koller

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and looking to gauge the potential return on investment in Enerplus Corporation (TSE:ERF).

Enerplus Corporation (TSE:ERF) delivered an ROE of 11.41% over the past 12 months, which is an impressive feat relative to its industry average of 6.50% during the same period. Superficially, this looks great since we know that ERF has generated big profits with little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us how much ERF has borrowed in debt. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of ERF’s ROE. See our latest analysis for Enerplus

Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests CA$1 in the form of equity, it will generate CA$0.11 in earnings from this. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Enerplus’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 11.62%. Since Enerplus’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -0.20%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, Enerplus pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. 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

TSX:ERF Last Perf June 26th 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 Enerplus can make from its asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Enerplus’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. At 41.27%, Enerplus’s debt-to-equity ratio appears low and indicates the above-average ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

TSX:ERF Historical Debt June 26th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Enerplus’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average, though its returns were not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of industry-beating returns. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Enerplus, there are three key aspects 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 Enerplus 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 Enerplus is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Enerplus? 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.