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With An ROE Of 4.1%, Can InfraREIT Inc (REIT) (NYSE:HIFR) Catch Up To The Industry?

Thomas Auclair

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 begin learning the link between company’s fundamentals and stock market performance.

InfraREIT Inc (REIT) (NYSE:HIFR) delivered a less impressive 4.1% ROE over the past year, compared to the 6.5% return generated by its industry. Though HIFR’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 HIFR’s below-average returns. I will take you through how metrics such as financial leverage impact ROE which may affect the overall sustainability of HIFR’s returns.

View our latest analysis for InfraREIT (REIT)

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

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 4.1% implies $0.041 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 InfraREIT (REIT)’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 8.9%. Since InfraREIT (REIT)’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -4.7%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, InfraREIT (REIT) pays more for its capital than what it generates 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

NYSE:HIFR Last Perf September 25th 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 InfraREIT (REIT) 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 financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt InfraREIT (REIT) currently has. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a balanced 104%, which means its ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a significant debt burden.

NYSE:HIFR Historical Debt September 25th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. InfraREIT (REIT) 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 InfraREIT (REIT)’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For InfraREIT (REIT), there are three fundamental factors 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 InfraREIT (REIT) 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 InfraREIT (REIT) is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of InfraREIT (REIT)? 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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com.