U.S. Markets closed
  • S&P Futures

    4,533.25
    -42.50 (-0.93%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    34,559.00
    -63.00 (-0.18%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    15,687.50
    -301.00 (-1.88%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    2,156.20
    -49.00 (-2.22%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    66.22
    -0.28 (-0.42%)
     
  • Gold

    1,782.10
    +21.40 (+1.22%)
     
  • Silver

    22.57
    +0.25 (+1.12%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1317
    +0.0012 (+0.1019%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.3430
    -0.1050 (-7.25%)
     
  • Vix

    30.67
    +2.72 (+9.73%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3235
    -0.0067 (-0.5029%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    112.8000
    -0.4090 (-0.3613%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    50,754.43
    +1,851.48 (+3.79%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,367.14
    -74.62 (-5.18%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,122.32
    -6.89 (-0.10%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,029.57
    +276.20 (+1.00%)
     

Tele2 AB (publ) (STO:TEL2 B) Delivered A Weaker ROE Than Its Industry

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • 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. We'll use ROE to examine Tele2 AB (publ) (STO:TEL2 B), by way of a worked example.

Over the last twelve months Tele2 has recorded a ROE of 4.8%. One way to conceptualize this, is that for each SEK1 of shareholders' equity it has, the company made SEK0.05 in profit.

See our latest analysis for Tele2

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders' Equity

Or for Tele2:

4.8% = kr1.4b ÷ kr34b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Most know that net profit is the total earnings after all expenses, but the concept of shareholders' equity is a little more complicated. It is the capital paid in by shareholders, plus any retained earnings. You can calculate shareholders' equity by subtracting the company's total liabilities from its total assets.

What Does ROE Mean?

ROE measures a company's profitability against the profit it retains, and any outside investments. The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. A higher profit will lead to a higher ROE. So, all else equal, investors should like a high ROE. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Tele2 Have A Good ROE?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Tele2 has a lower ROE than the average (8.1%) in the Wireless Telecom industry.

OM:TEL2 B Past Revenue and Net Income, October 23rd 2019
OM:TEL2 B Past Revenue and Net Income, October 23rd 2019

That's not what we like to see. We'd prefer see an ROE above the industry average, but it might not matter if the company is undervalued. Still, shareholders might want to check if insiders have been selling.

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

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 use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Tele2's Debt And Its 4.8% ROE

While Tele2 does have some debt, with debt to equity of just 0.74, we wouldn't say debt is excessive. I'm not impressed with its ROE, but the debt levels are not too high, indicating the business has decent prospects. Careful use of debt to boost returns is often very good for shareholders. However, it could reduce the company's ability to take advantage of future opportunities.

The Key Takeaway

Return on equity is one way we can compare the business quality of different companies. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course Tele2 may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.