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Does Steelcase Inc.'s (NYSE:SCS) Weak Fundamentals Mean That The Stock Could Move In The Opposite Direction?

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Steelcase's (NYSE:SCS) stock up by 6.4% over the past three months. Given that the markets usually pay for the long-term financial health of a company, we wonder if the current momentum in the share price will keep up, given that the company's financials don't look very promising. Specifically, we decided to study Steelcase's ROE in this article.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

View our latest analysis for Steelcase

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Steelcase is:

2.7% = US$26m ÷ US$961m (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.03 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. 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.

Steelcase's Earnings Growth And 2.7% ROE

It is quite clear that Steelcase's ROE is rather low. Not just that, even compared to the industry average of 7.5%, the company's ROE is entirely unremarkable. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 7.5% seen by Steelcase 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.

That being said, we compared Steelcase's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 7.9% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. What is SCS worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether SCS is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Steelcase Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 51% (implying that 49% of the profits are retained), most of Steelcase's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent. To know the 5 risks we have identified for Steelcase visit our risks dashboard for free.

In addition, Steelcase 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 55% of its profits over the next three years. However, Steelcase's ROE is predicted to rise to 7.2% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

In total, we would have a hard think before deciding on any investment action concerning Steelcase. Because the company is not reinvesting much into the business, and given the low ROE, it's not surprising to see the lack or absence of growth in its earnings. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.