U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 21 mins
  • S&P 500

    4,538.43
    -38.67 (-0.84%)
     
  • Dow 30

    34,580.08
    -59.71 (-0.17%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    15,085.47
    -295.85 (-1.92%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,159.31
    -47.02 (-2.13%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    66.22
    -0.28 (-0.42%)
     
  • Gold

    1,782.10
    +21.40 (+1.22%)
     
  • Silver

    22.57
    +0.25 (+1.12%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1317
    +0.0012 (+0.1019%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.3430
    -0.1050 (-7.25%)
     
  • Vix

    30.67
    +2.72 (+9.73%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3235
    -0.0067 (-0.5029%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    112.8000
    -0.4090 (-0.3613%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    49,246.85
    +651.21 (+1.34%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,367.14
    -74.62 (-5.18%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,122.32
    -6.89 (-0.10%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,029.57
    +276.20 (+1.00%)
     

Is Fortis Inc.'s (TSE:FTS) ROE Of 7.0% Concerning?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Fortis Inc. (TSE:FTS).

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

View our latest analysis for Fortis

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Fortis is:

7.0% = CA$1.4b ÷ CA$20b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every CA$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn CA$0.07 in profit.

Does Fortis Have A Good ROE?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. As shown in the graphic below, Fortis has a lower ROE than the average (9.9%) in the Electric Utilities industry classification.

roe
roe

Unfortunately, that's sub-optimal. However, a low ROE is not always bad. If the company's debt levels are moderate to low, then there's still a chance that returns can be improved via the use of financial leverage. When a company has low ROE but high debt levels, we would be cautious as the risk involved is too high.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Combining Fortis' Debt And Its 7.0% Return On Equity

Fortis clearly uses a high amount of debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 1.21. The combination of a rather low ROE and significant use of debt is not particularly appealing. 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.

Conclusion

Return on equity is one way we can compare its business quality of different companies. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth -- and how much investment is required going forward. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course Fortis may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.