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Mueller Water Products, Inc.'s (NYSE:MWA) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

It is hard to get excited after looking at Mueller Water Products' (NYSE:MWA) recent performance, when its stock has declined 14% over the past month. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. In this article, we decided to focus on Mueller Water Products' 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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for Mueller Water Products

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Mueller Water Products is:

12% = US$88m ÷ US$704m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.12 in profit.

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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

Mueller Water Products' Earnings Growth And 12% ROE

At first glance, Mueller Water Products seems to have a decent ROE. Even when compared to the industry average of 13% the company's ROE looks quite decent. Given the circumstances, we can't help but wonder why Mueller Water Products saw little to no growth in the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

As a next step, we compared Mueller Water Products' net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 8.6% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

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. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. Has the market priced in the future outlook for MWA? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Mueller Water Products Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 45% (implying that the company keeps 55% of its income) over the last three years, Mueller Water Products has seen a negligible amount of growth 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, Mueller Water Products 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 is expected to drop to 32% over the next three years.

Conclusion

In total, it does look like Mueller Water Products has some positive aspects to its business. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return and is reinvesting ma huge portion of its profits. By the looks of it, there could be some other factors, not necessarily in control of the business, that's preventing growth. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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