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Principal Financial Group, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:PFG) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

·4 min read

It is hard to get excited after looking at Principal Financial Group's (NASDAQ:PFG) recent performance, when its stock has declined 7.1% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Principal Financial Group's ROE today.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

View our latest analysis for Principal Financial Group

How To 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 Principal Financial Group is:

13% = US$1.6b ÷ US$12b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.13 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. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. 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.

Principal Financial Group's Earnings Growth And 13% ROE

To begin with, Principal Financial Group seems to have a respectable ROE. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 12%. For this reason, Principal Financial Group's five year net income decline of 4.6% raises the question as to why the decent ROE didn't translate into growth. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

So, as a next step, we compared Principal Financial Group's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 14% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is Principal Financial Group fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is Principal Financial Group Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 43% (where it is retaining 57% of its profits), Principal Financial Group has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. It looks like there might be some other reasons to explain the lack in that respect. For example, the business could be in decline.

Additionally, Principal Financial Group has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. 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 39%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 15%.

Summary

Overall, we feel that Principal Financial Group certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE and and a high reinvestment rate. We believe that there might be some outside factors that could be having a negative impact on the business. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. 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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