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Will PDL BioPharma Inc (NASDAQ:PDLI) Continue To Underperform Its Industry?

Daisy Mock

PDL BioPharma Inc’s (NASDAQ:PDLI) most recent return on equity was a substandard 9.49% relative to its industry performance of 17.87% over the past year. Though PDLI’s recent performance is underwhelming, it is useful to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components can change your views on PDLI’s below-average returns. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of PDLI’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. See our latest analysis for PDL BioPharma

Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of PDL BioPharma’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 9.49% implies $0.09 returned on every $1 invested. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of PDL BioPharma’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 14.61%. This means PDL BioPharma’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -5.12%. This isn’t sustainable as it implies, very simply, that the company pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be split up into three useful 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:PDLI Last Perf Mar 8th 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 PDL BioPharma’s asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt PDL BioPharma currently has. At 29.24%, PDL BioPharma’s debt-to-equity ratio appears low and indicates that PDL BioPharma still has room to increase leverage and grow its profits.

NasdaqGS:PDLI Historical Debt Mar 8th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. PDL BioPharma’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For PDL BioPharma, I’ve compiled three important aspects you should look at:

  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 PDL BioPharma 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 PDL BioPharma is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of PDL BioPharma? 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.