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Is Tate & Lyle plc’s (LON:TATE) ROE Of 19.2% Sustainable?

Ingrid Hart

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to learn about Return on Equity using a real-life example.

With an ROE of 19.2%, Tate & Lyle plc (LON:TATE) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 9.7% over the past year. While the impressive ratio tells us that TATE has made significant profits from little equity capital, ROE doesn’t tell us if TATE has borrowed debt to make this happen. In this article, we’ll closely examine some factors like financial leverage to evaluate the sustainability of TATE’s ROE.

View our latest analysis for Tate & Lyle

Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Tate & Lyle’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests £1 in the form of equity, it will generate £0.19 in earnings from this. While a higher ROE is preferred in most cases, there are several other factors we should consider before drawing any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Tate & Lyle’s cost of equity is 8.3%. Given a positive discrepancy of 11.0% between return and cost, this indicates that Tate & Lyle pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. 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

LSE:TATE Last Perf September 7th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Tate & Lyle’s 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 ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Tate & Lyle’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a low 41.7%, which means its above-average ROE is driven by its ability to grow its profit without a significant debt burden.

LSE:TATE Historical Debt September 7th 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. Tate & Lyle’s ROE is impressive relative to the industry average and also covers its cost of equity. ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of high returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Tate & Lyle, I’ve put together three key aspects you should further examine:

  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 Tate & Lyle 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 Tate & Lyle is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Tate & Lyle? 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.