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Will Empire State Realty Trust Inc (NYSE:ESRT) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

James Harlett

Empire State Realty Trust Inc (NYSE:ESRT) generated a below-average return on equity of 5.98% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 7.30%. ESRT’s results could indicate a relatively inefficient operation to its peers, and while this may be the case, it is important to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components could change your view on ESRT’s performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of ESRT’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. View our latest analysis for Empire State Realty Trust

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Empire State Realty Trust’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.06 in earnings from this. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Empire State Realty Trust’s cost of equity is 8.49%. This means Empire State Realty Trust’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -2.51%. This isn’t sustainable as it implies, very simply, that the company pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be broken down into three different 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

NYSE:ESRT Last Perf Apr 3rd 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Empire State Realty Trust can generate with its current asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Empire State Realty Trust’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. At 85.41%, Empire State Realty Trust’s debt-to-equity ratio appears sensible and indicates its ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

NYSE:ESRT Historical Debt Apr 3rd 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Empire State Realty Trust exhibits a weak ROE against its peers, as well as insufficient levels to cover its own cost of equity this year. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Empire State Realty Trust, there are three important aspects you should look at:

  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 Empire State Realty Trust 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 Empire State Realty Trust is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Empire State Realty Trust? 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.