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Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). We'll use ROE to examine Eversource Energy (NYSE:ES), by way of a worked example.
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.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
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 Eversource Energy is:
8.4% = US$1.2b ÷ US$14b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
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 $0.08 in profit.
Does Eversource Energy Have A Good ROE?
By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. The image below shows that Eversource Energy has an ROE that is roughly in line with the Electric Utilities industry average (9.4%).
That's neither particularly good, nor bad. Even if the ROE is respectable when compared to the industry, its worth checking if the firm's ROE is being aided by high debt levels. If so, this increases its exposure to financial risk. To know the 2 risks we have identified for Eversource Energy visit our risks dashboard for free.
How Does Debt Impact ROE?
Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.
Eversource Energy's Debt And Its 8.4% ROE
It's worth noting the high use of debt by Eversource Energy, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.16. Its ROE is quite low, even with the use of significant debt; that's not a good result, in our opinion. Investors should think carefully about how a company might perform if it was unable to borrow so easily, because credit markets do change over time.
Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.
But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
If you would prefer check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.
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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