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Can Constellation Software Inc (TSE:CSU) Continue To Outperform Its Industry?

Armando Maloney

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want a simplistic look at the return on Constellation Software Inc (TSE:CSU) stock.

Constellation Software Inc (TSE:CSU) outperformed the Application Software industry on the basis of its ROE – producing a higher 41.40% relative to the peer average of 13.61% over the past 12 months. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that CSU has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. We’ll take a closer look today at factors like financial leverage to determine whether CSU’s ROE is actually sustainable. Check out our latest analysis for Constellation Software

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Constellation Software’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 41.40% implies CA$0.41 returned on every CA$1 invested. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Constellation Software, which is 8.47%. Since Constellation Software’s return covers its cost in excess of 32.93%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Constellation Software pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be dissected into three distinct 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

TSX:CSU Last Perf June 22nd 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Constellation Software can generate with its current 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 Constellation Software currently has. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a low 42.39%, which means its above-average ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a significant debt burden.

TSX:CSU Historical Debt June 22nd 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Constellation Software’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. Its high ROE is not likely to be driven by high debt. Therefore, investors may have more confidence in the sustainability of this level of returns going forward. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Constellation Software, there are 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. Valuation: What is Constellation Software worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Constellation Software is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Constellation Software? 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 pass 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.