Westlake (NYSE:WLK) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 13% over the last three months. Given that the market rewards strong financials in the long-term, we wonder if that is the case in this instance. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Westlake's ROE today.
Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
Return on equity 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 Westlake is:
12% = US$1.4b ÷ US$11b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated $0.12 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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.
Westlake's Earnings Growth And 12% ROE
At first glance, Westlake seems to have a decent ROE. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 14%. Consequently, this likely laid the ground for the impressive net income growth of 23% seen over the past five years by Westlake. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. Such as - high earnings retention or an efficient management in place.
As a next step, we compared Westlake's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 14%.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. What is WLK worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether WLK is currently mispriced by the market.
Is Westlake Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
Westlake's ' three-year median payout ratio is on the lower side at 9.6% implying that it is retaining a higher percentage (90%) of its profits. This suggests that the management is reinvesting most of the profits to grow the business as evidenced by the growth seen by the company.
Besides, Westlake has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 14% over the next three years. However, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much despite the higher expected payout ratio.
On the whole, we feel that Westlake's performance has been quite good. Particularly, we like that the company is reinvesting heavily into its business, and at a high rate of return. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an impressive earnings growth. Having said that, the company's earnings growth is expected to slow down, as forecasted in the current analyst estimates. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.