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Will Life Storage Inc (NYSE:LSI) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Joseph Holm

Life Storage Inc’s (NYSE:LSI) most recent return on equity was a substandard 4.56% relative to its industry performance of 7.12% over the past year. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into LSI’s past performance. I will take you through how metrics such as financial leverage impact ROE which may affect the overall sustainability of LSI’s returns. See our latest analysis for Life Storage

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

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Life Storage’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 4.56% implies $0.05 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

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Life Storage’s cost of equity is 8.49%. This means Life Storage’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -3.94%. 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

NYSE:LSI Last Perf Feb 21st 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 Life Storage’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 Life Storage’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a sensible 84.55%, meaning the ROE is a result of its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NYSE:LSI Historical Debt Feb 21st 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Life Storage’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Life Storage, I’ve put together three relevant aspects 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.