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With An ROE Of 6.84%, Has QuinStreet Inc’s (NASDAQ:QNST) Management Done Well?

Michael Crabtree

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want a simplistic look at the return on QuinStreet Inc (NASDAQ:QNST) stock.

QuinStreet Inc’s (NASDAQ:QNST) most recent return on equity was a substandard 6.84% relative to its industry performance of 12.67% over the past year. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into QNST’s past performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of QNST’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. Check out our latest analysis for QuinStreet

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. An ROE of 6.84% implies $0.068 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 QuinStreet, which is 11.94%. Since QuinStreet’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -5.10%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, QuinStreet 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:QNST Last Perf June 25th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. Asset turnover shows how much revenue QuinStreet can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check QuinStreet’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently, QuinStreet has no debt which means its returns are driven purely by equity capital. This could explain why QuinStreet’s’ ROE is lower than its industry peers, most of which may have some degree of debt in its business.

NasdaqGS:QNST Historical Debt June 25th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. QuinStreet’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 QuinStreet, there are three key aspects you should further research:

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