It is hard to get excited after looking at British American Tobacco's (LON:BATS) recent performance, when its stock has declined 19% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. Specifically, we decided to study British American Tobacco's ROE in this article.
ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
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 British American Tobacco is:
9.4% = UK£6.5b ÷ UK£69b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each £1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made £0.09 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.
British American Tobacco's Earnings Growth And 9.4% ROE
To begin with, British American Tobacco seems to have a respectable ROE. Even so, when compared with the average industry ROE of 14%, we aren't very excited. British American Tobacco was still able to see a decent net income growth of 10% over the past five years. We reckon that there could be other factors at play here. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently. Bear in mind, the company does have a respectable level of ROE. It is just that the industry ROE is higher. So this also does lend some color to the fairly high earnings growth seen by the company.
Next, on comparing British American Tobacco's net income growth with the industry, we found that the company's reported growth is similar to the industry average growth rate of 11% in the same period.
Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. 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 British American Tobacco is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is British American Tobacco Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
While British American Tobacco has a three-year median payout ratio of 74% (which means it retains 26% of profits), the company has still seen a fair bit of earnings growth in the past, meaning that its high payout ratio hasn't hampered its ability to grow.
Additionally, British American Tobacco has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 65%. Regardless, the future ROE for British American Tobacco is predicted to rise to 12% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.
Overall, we feel that British American Tobacco certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Especially the substantial growth in earnings backed by a decent ROE. Despite the company reinvesting only a small portion of its profits, it still has managed to grow its earnings so that is appreciable. 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. 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.
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.
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