Cerner's (NASDAQ:CERN) stock up by 4.2% over the past three months. Given that stock prices are usually aligned with a company's financial performance in the long-term, we decided to investigate if the company's decent financials had a hand to play in the recent price move. In this article, we decided to focus on Cerner's ROE.
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for return on equity is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Cerner is:
13% = US$518m ÷ US$4.0b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.13 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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 everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.
Cerner's Earnings Growth And 13% ROE
To start with, Cerner's ROE looks acceptable. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 8.8% the company's ROE looks pretty remarkable. Despite this, Cerner's five year net income growth was quite flat over the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.
As a next step, we compared Cerner's net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 23% in the same period.
Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. What is CERN worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether CERN is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Cerner Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 32% (or a retention ratio of 68%), Cerner hasn't seen much growth in its earnings. So there could be some other explanation in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.
Only recently, Cerner started paying a dividend. This means that the management might have concluded that its shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 15% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 27% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.
Overall, we feel that Cerner certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return and is reinvesting ma huge portion of its profits. By the looks of it, there could be some other factors, not necessarily in control of the business, that's preventing growth. Having said that, looking at the current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings are expected to gain momentum. 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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