U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    4,247.44
    +8.26 (+0.19%)
     
  • Dow 30

    34,479.60
    +13.36 (+0.04%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    14,069.42
    +49.09 (+0.35%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,335.81
    +24.40 (+1.06%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    70.78
    +0.49 (+0.70%)
     
  • Gold

    1,879.50
    -16.90 (-0.89%)
     
  • Silver

    28.05
    +0.02 (+0.07%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2107
    -0.0071 (-0.58%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.4620
    +0.0030 (+0.21%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.4117
    -0.0060 (-0.42%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    109.6350
    +0.2870 (+0.26%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    35,903.76
    -107.02 (-0.30%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    924.19
    -17.62 (-1.87%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,134.06
    +45.88 (+0.65%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,948.73
    -9.83 (-0.03%)
     

Taking A Look At carsales.com Ltd's (ASX:CAR) ROE

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE) and why it is important. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CAR).

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 short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

View our latest analysis for carsales.com

How To 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 carsales.com is:

35% = AU$110m ÷ AU$310m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every A$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn A$0.35 in profit.

Does carsales.com Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see carsales.com has a similar ROE to the average in the Interactive Media and Services industry classification (40%).

roe
roe

That isn't amazing, but it is respectable. Even if the ROE is respectable when compared to the industry, its worth checking if the firm's ROE is being aided by high debt levels. If a company takes on too much debt, it is at higher risk of defaulting on interest payments. You can see the 2 risks we have identified for carsales.com by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Combining carsales.com's Debt And Its 35% Return On Equity

It's worth noting the high use of debt by carsales.com, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.51. While no doubt that its ROE is impressive, we would have been even more impressed had the company achieved this with lower debt. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.

Summary

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. If two companies have around the same level of debt to equity, and one has a higher ROE, I'd generally prefer the one with higher ROE.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: carsales.com may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

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 (at) simplywallst.com.