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Is Independent Bank Corporation’s (NASDAQ:IBCP) ROE Of 8.83% Sustainable?

Andrew Edmonds

Independent Bank Corporation (NASDAQ:IBCP) delivered an ROE of 8.83% over the past 12 months, which is an impressive feat relative to its industry average of 8.46% during the same period. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that IBCP has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of IBCP’s ROE. View our latest analysis for Independent Bank

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Independent Bank’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 8.83% implies $0.09 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 assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Independent Bank, which is 9.91%. This means Independent Bank’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -1.08%. This isn’t sustainable as it implies, very simply, that the company pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be dissected into three distinct 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:IBCP Last Perf May 9th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Independent Bank can make from its 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 Independent Bank’s debt-to-equity level. At 24.44%, Independent Bank’s debt-to-equity ratio appears low and indicates the above-average ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

NasdaqGS:IBCP Historical Debt May 9th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Independent Bank’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average, though its returns were not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of industry-beating returns. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Independent Bank, I’ve put together three relevant factors you should further research:

  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 Independent Bank 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 Independent Bank is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Independent Bank? 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.