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Marshalls plc's (LON:MSLH) Stock Is Rallying But Financials Look Ambiguous: Will The Momentum Continue?

·4 min read

Marshalls (LON:MSLH) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 6.5% over the last month. But the company's key financial indicators appear to be differing across the board and that makes us question whether or not the company's current share price momentum can be maintained. In this article, we decided to focus on Marshalls' 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 short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

Check out our latest analysis for Marshalls

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 Marshalls is:

0.9% = UK£2.6m ÷ UK£288m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. So, this means that for every £1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of £0.01.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

Marshalls' Earnings Growth And 0.9% ROE

It is quite clear that Marshalls' ROE is rather low. Even compared to the average industry ROE of 5.3%, the company's ROE is quite dismal. For this reason, Marshalls' five year net income decline of 3.5% is not surprising given its lower ROE. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. For example, the business has allocated capital poorly, or that the company has a very high payout ratio.

However, when we compared Marshalls' growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 24% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is MSLH fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is Marshalls Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 45% (where it is retaining 55% of its profits), Marshalls has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.

In addition, Marshalls has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 48%. Still, forecasts suggest that Marshalls' future ROE will rise to 19% even though the the company's payout ratio is not expected to change by much.

Summary

Overall, we have mixed feelings about Marshalls. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. 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 company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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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