La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB) has had a rough three months with its share price down 5.8%. We, however decided to study the company's financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes so it makes sense to study the company's financials. In this article, we decided to focus on La-Z-Boy's ROE.
Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.
How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for La-Z-Boy is:
9.3% = US$73m ÷ US$788m (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2021).
The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.09 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. 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.
La-Z-Boy's Earnings Growth And 9.3% ROE
When you first look at it, La-Z-Boy's ROE doesn't look that attractive. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 19%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 2.3% seen by La-Z-Boy over the last five years is not surprising. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.
That being said, we compared La-Z-Boy'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 18% in the same period.
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. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Is LZB fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.
Is La-Z-Boy Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Looking at its three-year median payout ratio of 29% (or a retention ratio of 71%) which is pretty normal, La-Z-Boy'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 might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.
Additionally, La-Z-Boy has paid dividends over a period of nine years, which means that the company's management is rather focused on keeping up its dividend payments, regardless of the shrinking earnings. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 23% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company's ROE to 15%, over the same period.
On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by La-Z-Boy can be open to many interpretations. While the company does have a high rate of reinvestment, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping any benefit to its investors, and moreover, its having a negative impact on the earnings 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. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts 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.
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