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Declining Stock and Solid Fundamentals: Is The Market Wrong About Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG)?

Simply Wall St
·4 min read

It is hard to get excited after looking at Fortescue Metals Group's (ASX:FMG) recent performance, when its stock has declined 7.7% over the past three months. But if you pay close attention, you might gather that its strong financials could mean that the stock could potentially see an increase in value in the long-term, given how markets usually reward companies with good financial health. In this article, we decided to focus on Fortescue Metals Group'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 Fortescue Metals Group

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 Fortescue Metals Group is:

36% = US$4.7b ÷ US$13b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every A$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of A$0.36.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of Fortescue Metals Group's Earnings Growth And 36% ROE

First thing first, we like that Fortescue Metals Group has an impressive ROE. Secondly, even when compared to the industry average of 13% the company's ROE is quite impressive. So, the substantial 41% net income growth seen by Fortescue Metals Group over the past five years isn't overly surprising.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Fortescue Metals Group's growth is quite high when compared to the industry average growth of 32% in the same period, which is great to see.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Fortescue Metals Group is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Fortescue Metals Group Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Fortescue Metals Group's significant three-year median payout ratio of 57% (where it is retaining only 43% of its income) suggests that the company has been able to achieve a high growth in earnings despite returning most of its income to shareholders.

Besides, Fortescue Metals Group has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 65% of its profits over the next three years. However, Fortescue Metals Group's future ROE is expected to decline to 16% despite there being not much change anticipated in the company's payout ratio.

Conclusion

In total, we are pretty happy with Fortescue Metals Group's performance. Especially the high ROE, Which has contributed to the impressive growth seen in earnings. Despite the company reinvesting only a small portion of its profits, it still has managed to grow its earnings so that is appreciable. That being so, according to the latest industry analyst forecasts, the company's earnings are expected to shrink in the future. 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@simplywallst.com.