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How Did Simon Property Group Inc’s (NYSE:SPG) 63.8% ROE Fare Against The Industry?

Raj Burman

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to begin learning the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

Simon Property Group Inc (NYSE:SPG) outperformed the Retail REITs industry on the basis of its ROE – producing a higher 63.8% relative to the peer average of 6.6% over the past 12 months. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that SPG has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. We’ll take a closer look today at factors like financial leverage to determine whether SPG’s ROE is actually sustainable.

See our latest analysis for Simon Property Group

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Simon Property Group’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 63.8% implies $0.64 returned on every $1 invested. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Simon Property Group, which is 8.6%. Since Simon Property Group’s return covers its cost in excess of 55.2%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Simon Property Group pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be split up into three useful 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

NYSE:SPG Last Perf September 6th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Simon Property Group can generate with its current asset base. Finally, financial leverage will be our main focus today. It shows how much of assets are funded by equity and can show how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Simon Property Group’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at more than 2.5 times, which means its above-average ROE is driven by significant debt levels.

NYSE:SPG Historical Debt September 6th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Simon Property Group’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. Its high debt level means its strong ROE may be driven by debt funding which raises concerns over the sustainability of Simon Property Group’s returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Simon Property Group, 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 Simon Property Group 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 Simon Property Group is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Simon Property Group? 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.