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Is Big Yellow Group Plc’s (LON:BYG) ROE Of 13.26% Sustainable?

Casey Hall

Big Yellow Group Plc (LSE:BYG) delivered an ROE of 13.26% over the past 12 months, which is an impressive feat relative to its industry average of 11.57% during the same period. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that BYG has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of BYG’s ROE. Check out our latest analysis for Big Yellow Group

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

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 £1 in the form of equity, it will generate £0.13 in earnings from this. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Big Yellow Group, which is 8.30%. Since Big Yellow Group’s return covers its cost in excess of 4.96%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Big Yellow Group pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. 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

LSE:BYG Last Perf Dec 27th 17

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 Big Yellow Group 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 inflated by excessive debt, we need to examine Big Yellow Group’s debt-to-equity level. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a low 35.01%, meaning the above-average ROE is due to its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

LSE:BYG Historical Debt Dec 27th 17

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? BYG exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. Since ROE is not inflated by excessive debt, it might be a good time to add more of BYG to your portfolio if your personal research is confirming what the ROE is telling you. If you’re looking for new ideas for high-returning stocks, you should take a look at our free platform to see the list of stocks with Return on Equity over 20%.

Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in BYG, basing your decision on ROE alone is certainly not sufficient. I recommend you do additional fundamental analysis by looking through our most recent infographic report on Big Yellow Group to help you make a more informed investment decision.


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.