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Did UBM plc (LON:UBM) Create Value For Investors Over The Past Year?

Gavin Beck

UBM plc (LSE:UBM) delivered a less impressive 9.12% ROE over the past year, compared to the 9.91% return generated by its industry. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into UBM’s past performance. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of UBM’s returns. Check out our latest analysis for UBM

What you must know about ROE

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs UBM’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests £1 in the form of equity, it will generate £0.09 in earnings from this. 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 UBM, which is 8.30%. Some of UBM’s peers may have a higher ROE but its cost of equity could exceed this return, leading to an unsustainable negative discrepancy i.e. the company spends more than it earns. This is not the case for UBM which is reassuring. ROE can be dissected into three distinct 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

LSE:UBM Last Perf Jan 19th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from UBM’s 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 UBM’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a reasonable 56.66%, which means its ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a significant debt burden.

LSE:UBM Historical Debt Jan 19th 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Although UBM’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, its returns are high enough to cover the cost of equity. Its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of UBM’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For UBM, I’ve compiled three pertinent aspects you should further research:

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 UBM 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 UBM is currently mispriced by the market.

3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of UBM? 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.