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With its stock down 15% over the past week, it is easy to disregard Electro-Sensors (NASDAQ:ELSE). We, however decided to study the company's financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes so it makes sense to study the company's financials. Specifically, we decided to study Electro-Sensors' ROE in this article.
Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
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 Electro-Sensors is:
1.7% = US$224k ÷ US$13m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.02 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.
A Side By Side comparison of Electro-Sensors' Earnings Growth And 1.7% ROE
It is quite clear that Electro-Sensors' ROE is rather low. Even compared to the average industry ROE of 14%, the company's ROE is quite dismal. Therefore, it might not be wrong to say that the five year net income decline of 20% seen by Electro-Sensors was possibly a result of it having a lower ROE. 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 Electro-Sensors' 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 14% in the same period.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is ELSE worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether ELSE is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Electro-Sensors Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
Electro-Sensors doesn't pay any dividend, meaning that the company is keeping all of its profits, which makes us wonder why it is retaining its earnings if it can't use them to grow its business. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Electro-Sensors' performance. While the company does have a high rate of reinvestment, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping any benefit to its investors, and moreover, its having a negative impact on the earnings growth. Wrapping up, we would proceed with caution with this company and one way of doing that would be to look at the risk profile of the business. Our risks dashboard would have the 2 risks we have identified for Electro-Sensors.
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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.