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Will ESSA Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:ESSA) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Arjun Bhatia

ESSA Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:ESSA) delivered a less impressive 4.09% ROE over the past year, compared to the 6.46% return generated by its industry. Though ESSA’s recent performance is underwhelming, it is useful to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components can change your views on ESSA’s below-average returns. I will take you through how metrics such as financial leverage impact ROE which may affect the overall sustainability of ESSA’s returns. View our latest analysis for ESSA Bancorp

Breaking down Return on Equity

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.04 in earnings from this. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of ESSA Bancorp’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 9.97%. Given a discrepancy of -5.88% between return and cost, this indicated that ESSA Bancorp may be paying more for its capital than what it’s generating 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

NasdaqGS:ESSA Last Perf Jan 23rd 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 ESSA Bancorp can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt ESSA Bancorp currently has. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a high 170.54%, which means its below-average ROE is already being driven by significant debt levels.

NasdaqGS:ESSA Historical Debt Jan 23rd 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. ESSA Bancorp 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 ESSA Bancorp, there are three fundamental factors you should further examine:


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.