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Declining Stock and Decent Financials: Is The Market Wrong About First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR)?

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It is hard to get excited after looking at First Solar's (NASDAQ:FSLR) recent performance, when its stock has declined 7.6% over the past three months. But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. In this article, we decided to focus on First Solar's ROE.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

Check out our latest analysis for First Solar

How To 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 First Solar is:

9.1% = US$517m ÷ US$5.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).

The 'return' is the profit 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 $0.09 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. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. 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.

First Solar's Earnings Growth And 9.1% ROE

At first glance, First Solar's ROE doesn't look very promising. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 14%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. Although, we can see that First Solar saw a modest net income growth of 8.3% over the past five years. So, the growth in the company's earnings could probably have been caused by other variables. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

As a next step, we compared First Solar'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 15% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. 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. Is First Solar fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is First Solar Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that First Solar certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Specifically, its fairly high earnings growth number, which no doubt was backed by the company's high earnings retention. Still, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping a lot of benefit to the investors. With that said, on studying the latest analyst forecasts, we found that while the company has seen growth in its past earnings, analysts expect its future earnings to shrink. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.