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CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) On An Uptrend: Could Fundamentals Be Driving The Stock?

Simply Wall St
·5 mins read

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Most readers would already know that CF Industries Holdings' (NYSE:CF) stock increased by 1.2% over the past month. As most would know, long-term fundamentals have a strong correlation with market price movements, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. Specifically, we decided to study CF Industries Holdings' 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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

Check out our latest analysis for CF Industries Holdings

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 CF Industries Holdings is:

11% = US$619m ÷ US$5.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.11 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. 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.

A Side By Side comparison of CF Industries Holdings' Earnings Growth And 11% ROE

At first glance, CF Industries Holdings seems to have a decent ROE. And on comparing with the industry, we found that the the average industry ROE is similar at 12%. For this reason, CF Industries Holdings' five year net income decline of 7.3% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. So, there might be some other aspects that could explain this. For example, it could be that the company has a high payout ratio or the business has allocated capital poorly, for instance.

However, when we compared CF Industries Holdings' growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 9.6% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. What is CF worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether CF is currently mispriced by the market.

Is CF Industries Holdings Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 55% (implying that 45% of the profits are retained), most of CF Industries Holdings' profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent. To know the 2 risks we have identified for CF Industries Holdings visit our risks dashboard for free.

Additionally, CF Industries Holdings has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to rise to 69% over the next three years. Regardless, the ROE is not expected to change much for the company despite the higher expected payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that CF Industries Holdings certainly does have some positive factors to consider. However, while the company does have a high ROE, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing. This can be blamed on the fact that it reinvests only a small portion of its profits and pays out the rest as dividends. Having said that, we studied the latest analyst forecasts, and found that analysts are expecting the company's earnings growth to improve slightly. Sure enough, this could bring some relief to shareholders. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts 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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