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Declining Stock and Solid Fundamentals: Is The Market Wrong About Cigna Corporation (NYSE:CI)?

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It is hard to get excited after looking at Cigna's (NYSE:CI) recent performance, when its stock has declined 22% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financial performance over the long term, which in this case looks quite promising. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Cigna's ROE today.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Cigna

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Cigna is:

17% = US$8.2b ÷ US$49b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.17 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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 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.

Cigna's Earnings Growth And 17% ROE

To begin with, Cigna seems to have a respectable ROE. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 18%. This probably goes some way in explaining Cigna's significant 33% net income growth over the past five years amongst other factors. We believe that there might also be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.

As a next step, we compared Cigna's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 16%.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. Is Cigna fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is Cigna Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Cigna's three-year median payout ratio to shareholders is 0.3%, which is quite low. This implies that the company is retaining 100% of its profits. This suggests that the management is reinvesting most of the profits to grow the business as evidenced by the growth seen by the company.

Moreover, Cigna is determined to keep sharing its profits with shareholders which we infer from its long history of paying a dividend for at least ten years. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to rise to 19% over the next three years. However, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much despite the higher expected payout ratio.

Summary

Overall, we are quite pleased with Cigna's performance. Specifically, we like that the company is reinvesting a huge chunk of its profits at a high rate of return. This of course has caused the company to see substantial growth in its earnings. Having said that, the company's earnings growth is expected to slow down, as forecasted in the current analyst estimates. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page 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.