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With An ROE Of 2.58%, Has Tantech Holdings Ltd’s (NASDAQ:TANH) Management Done Well?

Blake Harford

Tantech Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:TANH) generated a below-average return on equity of 2.58% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 13.48%. TANH’s results could indicate a relatively inefficient operation to its peers, and while this may be the case, it is important to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components could change your view on TANH’s performance. I will take you through how metrics such as financial leverage impact ROE which may affect the overall sustainability of TANH’s returns. See our latest analysis for Tantech Holdings

What you must know about ROE

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Tantech Holdings’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 2.58% implies $0.03 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 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 Tantech Holdings, which is 8.89%. Given a discrepancy of -6.31% between return and cost, this indicated that Tantech Holdings may be paying more for its capital than what it’s generating in return. 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

NasdaqCM:TANH Last Perf Apr 28th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Tantech Holdings 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 Tantech Holdings’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a low 10.33%, meaning Tantech Holdings still has headroom to borrow debt to increase profits.

NasdaqCM:TANH Historical Debt Apr 28th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Tantech Holdings exhibits a weak ROE against its peers, as well as insufficient levels to cover its own cost of equity this year. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Tantech Holdings’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Tantech Holdings, I’ve compiled three key aspects you should further examine:

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