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Does National Retail Properties, Inc.'s (NYSE:NNN) Weak Fundamentals Mean A Downturn In Its Stock Should Be Expected?

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National Retail Properties' (NYSE:NNN) stock is up by 4.0% over the past three months. However, its weak financial performance indicators makes us a bit doubtful if that trend could continue. In this article, we decided to focus on National Retail Properties' ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

Check out our latest analysis for National Retail Properties

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

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

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

5.1% = US$220m ÷ US$4.3b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.05.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

National Retail Properties' Earnings Growth And 5.1% ROE

On the face of it, National Retail Properties' ROE is not much to talk about. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 5.2%. Having said that, National Retail Properties has shown a meagre net income growth of 3.7% over the past five years. Remember, the company's ROE is not particularly great to begin with. So this could also be one of the reasons behind the company's low growth in earnings.

As a next step, we compared National Retail Properties' net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 9.0% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Has the market priced in the future outlook for NNN? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is National Retail Properties Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

National Retail Properties seems to be paying out most of its income as dividends judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 89% (or a retention ratio of 11%). However, this is typical for REITs as they are often required by law to distribute most of their earnings. So this probably explains the low earnings growth seen by the company.

In addition, National Retail Properties has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 76% of its profits over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for National Retail Properties is predicted to rise to 7.7% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

In total, we would have a hard think before deciding on any investment action concerning National Retail Properties. As a result of its low ROE and lack of much reinvestment into the business, the company has seen a disappointing earnings growth rate. Having said that, looking at the current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings are expected to gain momentum. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page 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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