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Will Consolidated Water Co Ltd (NASDAQ:CWCO) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Donald Bartholomew

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to learn about Return on Equity using a real-life example.

Consolidated Water Co Ltd (NASDAQ:CWCO) generated a below-average return on equity of 4.4% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 10.5%. CWCO’s results could indicate a relatively inefficient operation to its peers, and while this may be the case, it is important to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components could change your view on CWCO’s performance. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of CWCO’s returns.

View our latest analysis for Consolidated Water

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Consolidated Water’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.044 in earnings from this. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Consolidated Water’s cost of equity is 8.6%. Given a discrepancy of -4.2% between return and cost, this indicated that Consolidated Water may be paying more for its capital than what it’s generating in return. ROE can be broken down into three different 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

NasdaqGS:CWCO Last Perf September 11th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Consolidated Water can make from its asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Consolidated Water currently has. Currently Consolidated Water has virtually no debt, which means its returns are predominantly driven by equity capital. This could explain why Consolidated Water’s’ ROE is lower than its industry peers, most of which may have some degree of debt in its business.

NasdaqGS:CWCO Historical Debt September 11th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Consolidated Water’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Consolidated Water’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Consolidated Water, I’ve put together three essential aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Future Earnings: How does Consolidated Water’s growth rate compare to its peers and the wider market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for the upcoming years by interacting with our free analyst growth expectation chart.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Consolidated Water? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

To help readers see past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.