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How Saul Centers Inc (NYSE:BFS) Delivered A Better ROE Than Its Industry

Julian Fleming

This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want a simplistic look at the return on Saul Centers Inc (NYSE:BFS) stock.

With an ROE of 14.81%, Saul Centers Inc (NYSE:BFS) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 7.63% over the past year. Superficially, this looks great since we know that BFS has generated big profits with little equity capital; however, ROE doesn’t tell us how much BFS has borrowed in debt. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of BFS’s ROE. View out our latest analysis for Saul Centers

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. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Saul Centers’s cost of equity is 8.59%. Since Saul Centers’s return covers its cost in excess of 6.22%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Saul Centers pays less 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

NYSE:BFS Last Perf June 27th 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 Saul Centers 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 Saul Centers currently has. At 245.25%, Saul Centers’s debt-to-equity ratio appears relatively high and indicates the above-average ROE is generated by significant leverage levels.

NYSE:BFS Historical Debt June 27th 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Saul Centers’s above-industry ROE is encouraging, and is also in excess of its cost of equity. With debt capital in excess of equity, ROE may be inflated by the use of debt funding, raising questions over the sustainability of the company’s returns. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Saul Centers, I’ve put together three essential 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 Saul Centers 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 Saul Centers is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Saul Centers? 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.