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The Gap, Inc.'s (NYSE:GPS) Stock Is Going Strong: Have Financials A Role To Play?

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Most readers would already be aware that Gap's (NYSE:GPS) stock increased significantly by 41% over the past three months. As most would know, fundamentals are what usually guide market price movements over the long-term, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. Specifically, we decided to study Gap's ROE in this article.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

Check out our latest analysis for Gap

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 Gap is:

30% = US$781m ÷ US$2.6b (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2021).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.30 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Gap's Earnings Growth And 30% ROE

Firstly, we acknowledge that Gap has a significantly high ROE. Additionally, the company's ROE is higher compared to the industry average of 22% which is quite remarkable. As you might expect, the 31% net income decline reported by Gap doesn't bode well with us. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

That being said, we compared Gap's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 12% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Gap is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Gap Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Looking at its three-year median payout ratio of 37% (or a retention ratio of 63%) which is pretty normal, Gap's declining earnings is rather baffling as one would expect to see a fair bit of growth when a company is retaining a good portion of its profits. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Additionally, Gap has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 33%. Accordingly, forecasts suggest that Gap's future ROE will be 27% which is again, similar to the current ROE.

Conclusion

Overall, we feel that Gap certainly does have some positive factors to consider. However, given the high ROE and high profit retention, we would expect the company to be delivering strong earnings growth, but that isn't the case here. This suggests that there might be some external threat to the business, that's hampering its growth. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

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.