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Sensient Technologies (NYSE:SXT) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 28% over the last three months. But the company's key financial indicators appear to be differing across the board and that makes us question whether or not the company's current share price momentum can be maintained. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Sensient Technologies' ROE today.
Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How Is ROE Calculated?
ROE can be calculated by using the formula:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Sensient Technologies is:
7.5% = US$67m ÷ US$897m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.08 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.
Sensient Technologies' Earnings Growth And 7.5% ROE
When you first look at it, Sensient Technologies' ROE doesn't look that attractive. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 10%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. For this reason, Sensient Technologies' five year net income decline of 2.9% is not surprising given its lower ROE. However, there could also be other factors causing the earnings to decline. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.
So, as a next step, we compared Sensient Technologies' performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 7.3% in the same period.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Sensient Technologies is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is Sensient Technologies Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 48% (that is, a retention ratio of 52%), the fact that Sensient Technologies' earnings have shrunk is quite puzzling. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.
In addition, Sensient Technologies has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to rise to 60% over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for Sensient Technologies is speculated to rise to 13% despite the anticipated increase in the payout ratio. There could probably be other factors that could be driving the future growth in the ROE.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Sensient Technologies' performance. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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