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Can Forward Air Corporation’s (NASDAQ:FWRD) ROE Continue To Surpass The Industry Average?

Terrence Jolly

Forward Air Corporation (NASDAQ:FWRD) delivered an ROE of 16.37% over the past 12 months, which is an impressive feat relative to its industry average of 12.53% during the same period. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that FWRD has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some factors like financial leverage to see how sustainable FWRD’s ROE is. Check out our latest analysis for Forward Air

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Forward Air’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 16.37% implies $0.16 returned on every $1 invested. 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 Forward Air’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 9.76%. Given a positive discrepancy of 6.61% between return and cost, this indicates that Forward Air pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. 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:FWRD Last Perf Mar 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 Forward Air can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be inflated by excessive debt, we need to examine Forward Air’s debt-to-equity level. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a low 7.68%, meaning the above-average ROE is due to its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NasdaqGS:FWRD Historical Debt Mar 3rd 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Forward Air’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of high returns. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Forward Air, I’ve compiled three important factors 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 Forward Air 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 Forward Air is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Forward Air? 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.