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Should We Be Cautious About JELD-WEN Holding, Inc.'s (NYSE:JELD) ROE Of 12%?

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One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. (NYSE:JELD).

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

Check out our latest analysis for JELD-WEN Holding

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for JELD-WEN Holding is:

12% = US$117m ÷ US$977m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.12 in profit.

Does JELD-WEN Holding Have A Good Return On Equity?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As shown in the graphic below, JELD-WEN Holding has a lower ROE than the average (19%) in the Building industry classification.

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That's not what we like to see. That being said, a low ROE is not always a bad thing, especially if the company has low leverage as this still leaves room for improvement if the company were to take on more debt. When a company has low ROE but high debt levels, we would be cautious as the risk involved is too high. To know the 3 risks we have identified for JELD-WEN Holding visit our risks dashboard for free.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt used for growth will improve returns, but won't affect the total equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

JELD-WEN Holding's Debt And Its 12% ROE

It's worth noting the high use of debt by JELD-WEN Holding, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.69. While its ROE is pretty respectable, the amount of debt the company is carrying currently is not ideal. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.

Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. In our books, the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth -- and how much investment is required going forward. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.

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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