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Did Electro-Sensors Inc (NASDAQ:ELSE) Create Value For Investors Over The Past Year?

Wade Goff

Electro-Sensors Inc (NASDAQ:ELSE) delivered a less impressive 3.31% ROE over the past year, compared to the 10.08% return generated by its industry. Though ELSE’s recent performance is underwhelming, it is useful to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components can change your views on ELSE’s below-average returns. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of ELSE’s returns. View our latest analysis for Electro-Sensors

Breaking down Return on Equity

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.03 in earnings from this. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Electro-Sensors’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 9.11%. Since Electro-Sensors’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -5.81%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, Electro-Sensors pays more 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

NasdaqCM:ELSE Last Perf Mar 12th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Electro-Sensors can make from its asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Electro-Sensors currently has. Currently, Electro-Sensors has no debt which means its returns are driven purely by equity capital. This could explain why Electro-Sensors’s’ ROE is lower than its industry peers, most of which may have some degree of debt in its business.

NasdaqCM:ELSE Historical Debt Mar 12th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Electro-Sensors’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Electro-Sensors, I’ve put together three relevant aspects 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 Electro-Sensors 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 Electro-Sensors is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Electro-Sensors? 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.