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Corning's (NYSE:GLW) stock is up by a considerable 13% over the past three months. However, we decided to pay attention to the company's fundamentals which don't appear to give a clear sign about the company's financial health. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Corning's ROE today.
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 To 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 Corning is:
2.3% = US$292m ÷ US$13b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.02.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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. 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.
Corning's Earnings Growth And 2.3% ROE
It is hard to argue that Corning's ROE is much good in and of itself. Even compared to the average industry ROE of 9.7%, the company's ROE is quite dismal. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 27% seen by Corning over the last five years is not surprising. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. For example, the business has allocated capital poorly, or that the company has a very high payout ratio.
However, when we compared Corning's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 10% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is GLW worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether GLW is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Corning Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?
Looking at its three-year median payout ratio of 43% (or a retention ratio of 57%) which is pretty normal, Corning'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. It looks like there might be some other reasons to explain the lack in that respect. For example, the business could be in decline.
Additionally, Corning has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 47%. Regardless, the future ROE for Corning is predicted to rise to 14% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Corning's performance. 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. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. 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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