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Steel Dynamics Inc (NASDAQ:STLD) Delivered A Better ROE Than The Industry, Here’s Why

Walter Gay

With an ROE of 24.32%, Steel Dynamics Inc (NASDAQ:STLD) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 11.09% over the past year. While the impressive ratio tells us that STLD has made significant profits from little equity capital, ROE doesn’t tell us if STLD has borrowed debt to make this happen. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some factors like financial leverage to see how sustainable STLD’s ROE is. See our latest analysis for Steel Dynamics

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 24.32% implies $0.24 returned on every $1 invested. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Steel Dynamics’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 11.28%. This means Steel Dynamics returns enough to cover its own cost of equity, with a buffer of 13.04%. This sustainable practice implies that the company 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

NasdaqGS:STLD Last Perf Jun 8th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Steel Dynamics can make from its asset base. Finally, financial leverage will be our main focus today. It shows how much of assets are funded by equity and can show how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Steel Dynamics currently has. At 69.04%, Steel Dynamics’s debt-to-equity ratio appears sensible and indicates the above-average ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

NasdaqGS:STLD Historical Debt Jun 8th 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. Steel Dynamics’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. Its high ROE is not likely to be driven by high debt. Therefore, investors may have more confidence in the sustainability of this level of returns going forward. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Steel Dynamics, I’ve compiled three key aspects you should look at:

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