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Will Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (NYSE:JLL) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Collin Greene

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (NYSE:JLL) delivered a less impressive 7.83% ROE over the past year, compared to the 9.50% return generated by its industry. JLL’s results could indicate a relatively inefficient operation to its peers, and while this may be the case, it is important to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components could change your view on JLL’s performance. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of JLL’s returns. View our latest analysis for Jones Lang LaSalle

Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Jones Lang LaSalle’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Jones Lang LaSalle’s cost of equity is 8.53%. This means Jones Lang LaSalle’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -0.69%. 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 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

NYSE:JLL Last Perf Feb 19th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Jones Lang LaSalle’s 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 Jones Lang LaSalle’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a low 32.32%, which means Jones Lang LaSalle still has headroom to take on more leverage in order to increase profits.

NYSE:JLL Historical Debt Feb 19th 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Jones Lang LaSalle’s below-industry ROE is disappointing, furthermore, its returns were not even high enough to cover its own cost of equity. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Jones Lang LaSalle’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Jones Lang LaSalle, there are three essential factors you should further research:

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.