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Is Constellation Software Inc’s (TSE:CSU) ROE Of 36.75% Sustainable?

Declan Brown

Constellation Software Inc (TSX:CSU) delivered an ROE of 36.75% over the past 12 months, which is an impressive feat relative to its industry average of 16.25% during the same period. 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 Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Constellation Software’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. 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

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Constellation Software’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 8.43%. Since Constellation Software’s return covers its cost in excess of 28.32%, 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 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

TSX:CSU Last Perf Apr 20th 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 reveals how much revenue can be generated from Constellation Software’s asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Constellation Software’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a sensible 55.10%, meaning the above-average ROE is due to its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

TSX:CSU Historical Debt Apr 20th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Constellation Software’s above-industry ROE is encouraging, and is also in excess of 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, I’ve compiled three fundamental factors you should further examine:

  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.