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Should You Expect Biogen Inc (BIIB) To Continue Delivering An ROE Of 28.62%?

Andrew Carroll

With an ROE of 28.62%, Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 15.86% over the past year. While the impressive ratio tells us that BIIB has made significant profits from little equity capital, ROE doesn’t tell us if BIIB has borrowed debt to make this happen. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of BIIB’s ROE. Check out our latest analysis for Biogen

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. It essentially shows how much BIIB can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. 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 BIIB’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 13.32%. This means BIIB returns enough to cover its own cost of equity, with a buffer of 15.31%. This sustainable practice implies that the company pays less 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

NasdaqGS:BIIB Last Perf Oct 18th 17

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient BIIB is with its cost management. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue BIIB can make from its asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check BIIB’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a sensible 56.28%, meaning the above-average ROE is due to its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NasdaqGS:BIIB Historical Debt Oct 18th 17

What this means for you:

Are you a shareholder? BIIB exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. Since its high ROE is not likely driven by high debt, it might be a good time to top up on your current holdings if your fundamental research reaffirms this analysis. If you're looking for new ideas for high-returning stocks, you should take a look at our free platform to see the list of stocks with Return on Equity over 20%.

Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in BIIB, basing your decision on ROE alone is certainly not sufficient. I recommend you do additional fundamental analysis by looking through our most recent infographic report on Biogen to help you make a more informed investment decision.


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.