It is hard to get excited after looking at James River Group Holdings' (NASDAQ:JRVR) recent performance, when its stock has declined 17% over the past three months. We, however decided to study the company's financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Long-term fundamentals are usually what drive market outcomes, so it's worth paying close attention. In this article, we decided to focus on James River Group Holdings' ROE.
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How Is ROE Calculated?
ROE 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 James River Group Holdings is:
4.1% = US$30m ÷ US$736m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2023).
The 'return' is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.04 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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. 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.
James River Group Holdings' Earnings Growth And 4.1% ROE
On the face of it, James River Group Holdings' ROE is not much to talk about. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 11%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 50% seen by James River Group Holdings over the last five years is not surprising. However, there could also be other factors causing the earnings to decline. Such as - low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.
So, as a next step, we compared James River Group Holdings' performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 11% over the last few years.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if James River Group Holdings is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is James River Group Holdings Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
Despite having a normal LTM (or last twelve month) payout ratio of 38% (where it is retaining 62% of its profits), James River Group Holdings has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. It looks like there might be some other reasons to explain the lack in that respect. For example, the business could be in decline.
In addition, James River Group Holdings has been paying dividends over a period of eight years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is preferred by the management even though earnings have been in decline. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 9.5% over the next three years.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about James River Group Holdings' performance. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.