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Is Sun Life Financial Inc.'s (TSE:SLF) Recent Stock Performance Influenced By Its Fundamentals In Any Way?

Simply Wall St


Sun Life Financial (TSE:SLF) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 25% over the last three months. As most would know, fundamentals are what usually guide market price movements over the long-term, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. In this article, we decided to focus on Sun Life Financial's ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.


View our latest analysis for Sun Life Financial

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Sun Life Financial is:

9.5% = CA$2.4b ÷ CA$25b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each CA$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made CA$0.10 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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.

Sun Life Financial's Earnings Growth And 9.5% ROE

At first glance, Sun Life Financial's ROE doesn't look very promising. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 8.6%. On the other hand, Sun Life Financial reported a fairly low 2.3% net income growth over the past five years. Bear in mind, the company's ROE is not very high . So this could also be one of the reasons behind the company's low growth in earnings.

We then performed a comparison between Sun Life Financial's net income growth with the industry, which revealed that the company's growth is similar to the average industry growth of 2.3% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is SLF worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether SLF is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Sun Life Financial Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Despite having a moderate three-year median payout ratio of 48% (implying that the company retains the remaining 52% of its income), Sun Life Financial's earnings growth was quite low. So there could be some other explanation in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

In addition, Sun Life Financial 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. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 40% of its profits over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for Sun Life Financial is predicted to rise to 14% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Summary

On the whole, we do feel that Sun Life Financial has some positive attributes. Namely, its respectable earnings growth, which it achieved due to it retaining most of its profits. However, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. Having said that, looking at the current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings are expected to gain momentum. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.