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Declining Stock and Solid Fundamentals: Is The Market Wrong About Highwoods Properties, Inc. (NYSE:HIW)?

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With its stock down 11% over the past month, it is easy to disregard Highwoods Properties (NYSE:HIW). 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 Highwoods Properties' ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

View our latest analysis for Highwoods Properties

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity can be calculated by using the formula:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Highwoods Properties is:

13% = US$322m ÷ US$2.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.13.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Highwoods Properties' Earnings Growth And 13% ROE

At first glance, Highwoods Properties seems to have a decent ROE. Especially when compared to the industry average of 5.0% the company's ROE looks pretty impressive. Probably as a result of this, Highwoods Properties was able to see an impressive net income growth of 22% over the last five years. However, there could also be other causes behind this 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.

We then compared Highwoods Properties' net income growth with the industry and we're pleased to see that the company's growth figure is higher when compared with the industry which has a growth rate of 14% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Has the market priced in the future outlook for HIW? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Highwoods Properties Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Highwoods Properties has a very high three-year median payout ratio of 53%. This means that it has only 47% of its income left to reinvest into its business. However, it's not unusual to see a REIT with such a high payout ratio mainly due to statutory requirements. Regardless, this hasn't hampered its ability to grow as we saw earlier.

Moreover, Highwoods Properties 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. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 52%. Regardless, Highwoods Properties' ROE is speculated to decline to 5.5% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we are quite pleased with Highwoods Properties' 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. Having said that, on studying current analyst estimates, we were concerned to see that while the company has grown its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings 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.

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