U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    4,158.24
    +100.40 (+2.47%)
     
  • Dow 30

    33,212.96
    +575.77 (+1.76%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,131.13
    +390.48 (+3.33%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,887.90
    +49.66 (+2.70%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    115.07
    +0.98 (+0.86%)
     
  • Gold

    1,857.30
    +3.40 (+0.18%)
     
  • Silver

    22.14
    +0.17 (+0.77%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0739
    +0.0006 (+0.05%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    2.7430
    -0.0130 (-0.47%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.2631
    +0.0025 (+0.20%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    127.0850
    -0.0170 (-0.01%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    29,009.91
    +160.32 (+0.56%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    625.79
    -3.71 (-0.59%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,585.46
    +20.54 (+0.27%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,781.68
    +176.84 (+0.66%)
     

Is The Sage Group plc's (LON:SGE) 18% ROE Better Than Average?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. We'll use ROE to examine The Sage Group plc (LON:SGE), by way of a worked example.

Sage Group has a ROE of 18%, based on the last twelve months. That means that for every £1 worth of shareholders' equity, it generated £0.18 in profit.

See our latest analysis for Sage Group

How Do I Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

Or for Sage Group:

18% = UK£266m ÷ UK£1.5b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

It's easy to understand the 'net profit' part of that equation, but 'shareholders' equity' requires further explanation. It is all the money paid into the company from shareholders, plus any earnings retained. Shareholders' equity can be calculated by subtracting the total liabilities of the company from the total assets of the company.

What Does Return On Equity Signify?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. That means that the higher the ROE, the more profitable the company is. So, all else equal, investors should like a high ROE. Clearly, then, one can use ROE to compare different companies.

Does Sage Group Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. Pleasingly, Sage Group has a superior ROE than the average (10%) company in the Software industry.

LSE:SGE Past Revenue and Net Income, January 23rd 2020
LSE:SGE Past Revenue and Net Income, January 23rd 2020

That is a good sign. In my book, a high ROE almost always warrants a closer look. For example you might check if insiders are buying shares.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Sage Group's Debt And Its 18% ROE

Although Sage Group does use debt, its debt to equity ratio of 0.51 is still low. The fact that it achieved a fairly good ROE with only modest debt suggests the business might be worth putting on your watchlist. Careful use of debt to boost returns is often very good for shareholders. However, it could reduce the company's ability to take advantage of future opportunities.

In Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have around the same level of debt to equity, and one has a higher ROE, I'd generally prefer the one with higher ROE.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you'll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth -- and how much investment is required going forward. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Sage Group may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.