The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to start learning about core concepts of fundamental analysis on practical examples from today’s market.
With an ROE of 32.1%, Pentair plc (NYSE:PNR) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 12.6% over the past year. On the surface, this looks fantastic since we know that PNR has made large profits from little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us if management have borrowed heavily to make this happen. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some factors like financial leverage to see how sustainable PNR’s ROE is.
Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios
Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.32 in earnings from this. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.
Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity
ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Pentair, which is 10.5%. Given a positive discrepancy of 21.7% between return and cost, this indicates that Pentair pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. ROE can be dissected into three distinct ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the 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
Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Pentair can make from its 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 ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Pentair’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a low 41.3%, meaning the above-average ROE is due to its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.
While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Pentair exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. Its high ROE is not likely to be driven by high debt. Therefore, investors may have more confidence in the sustainability of this level of returns going forward. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.
For Pentair, I’ve compiled three key factors you should further examine:
- 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.
- Valuation: What is Pentair 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 Pentair is currently mispriced by the market.
- Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Pentair? 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.