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Otter Tail Corporation's (NASDAQ:OTTR) Stock Has Been Sliding But Fundamentals Look Strong: Is The Market Wrong?

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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With its stock down 19% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Otter Tail (NASDAQ:OTTR). But if you pay close attention, you might gather that its strong financials could mean that the stock could potentially see an increase in value in the long-term, given how markets usually reward companies with good financial health. In this article, we decided to focus on Otter Tail's ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

View our latest analysis for Otter Tail

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 Otter Tail is:

11% = US$87m ÷ US$781m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.11 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 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.

A Side By Side comparison of Otter Tail's Earnings Growth And 11% ROE

At first glance, Otter Tail seems to have a decent ROE. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 9.4%. This probably goes some way in explaining Otter Tail's moderate 10% growth over the past five years amongst other factors.

We then compared Otter Tail's net income growth with the industry and we're pleased to see that the company's growth figure is higher when compared with the industry which has a growth rate of 7.6% in the same period.

NasdaqGS:OTTR Past Earnings Growth April 27th 2020
NasdaqGS:OTTR Past Earnings Growth April 27th 2020

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. If you're wondering about Otter Tail's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Otter Tail Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Otter Tail has a significant three-year median payout ratio of 77%, meaning that it is left with only 23% to reinvest into its business. This implies that the company has been able to achieve decent earnings growth despite returning most of its profits to shareholders.

Additionally, Otter Tail has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 63%. Accordingly, forecasts suggest that Otter Tail's future ROE will be 11% which is again, similar to the current ROE.

Conclusion

Overall, we are quite pleased with Otter Tail's performance. We are particularly impressed by the considerable earnings growth posted by the company, which was likely backed by its high ROE. While the company is paying out most of its earnings as dividends, it has been able to grow its earnings in spite of it, so that's probably a good sign. That being so, a study of the latest analyst forecasts show that the company is expected to see a slowdown in its future earnings growth. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.