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What You Must Know About Insteel Industries Inc’s (NASDAQ:IIIN) Return on Equity

Kari Hurd

Insteel Industries Inc (NASDAQ:IIIN) generated a below-average return on equity of 12.35% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 12.74%. 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 IIIN’s past performance. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of IIIN’s returns. Check out our latest analysis for Insteel Industries

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Insteel Industries’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.12 in earnings from this. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Insteel Industries’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 8.49%. Insteel Industries’s ROE exceeds its cost by 3.86%, which is a big tick. Some of its peers with higher ROE may face a cost which exceeds returns, which is unsustainable and far less desirable than Insteel Industries’s case of positive discrepancy. ROE can be broken down into three different 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

NasdaqGS:IIIN Last Perf Mar 30th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Insteel Industries’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 Insteel Industries’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently, Insteel Industries has no debt which means its returns are driven purely by equity capital. This could explain why Insteel Industries’s’ ROE is lower than its industry peers, most of which may have some degree of debt in its business.

NasdaqGS:IIIN Historical Debt Mar 30th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Although Insteel Industries’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, its returns are high enough to cover the cost of equity. Its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Insteel Industries’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Insteel Industries, there are three essential aspects you should further research:

  1. Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Valuation: What is Insteel Industries worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Insteel Industries is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Insteel Industries? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!


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.