U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 35 mins

Is Tenneco Inc’s (NYSE:TEN) ROE Of 34.95% Sustainable?

Jodi Pearce

With an ROE of 34.95%, Tenneco Inc (NYSE:TEN) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 14.55% over the past year. While the impressive ratio tells us that TEN has made significant profits from little equity capital, ROE doesn’t tell us if TEN has borrowed debt to make this happen. We’ll take a closer look today at factors like financial leverage to determine whether TEN’s ROE is actually sustainable. View our latest analysis for Tenneco

Breaking down Return on Equity

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.35 in earnings from this. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Tenneco’s cost of equity is 13.56%. Since Tenneco’s return covers its cost in excess of 21.38%, its use of equity capital is efficient and likely to be sustainable. Simply put, Tenneco pays less for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be dissected into three distinct 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

NYSE:TEN Last Perf Apr 27th 18

Essentially, profit margin shows how much money the company makes after paying for all its expenses. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Tenneco can generate with its current 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 Tenneco’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. At 183.80%, Tenneco’s debt-to-equity ratio appears relatively high and indicates the above-average ROE is generated by significant leverage levels.

NYSE:TEN Historical Debt Apr 27th 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. Tenneco exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. With debt capital in excess of equity, ROE may be inflated by the use of debt funding, raising questions over the sustainability of the company’s returns. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Tenneco, I’ve put together three relevant factors you should further research:

  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 Tenneco 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 Tenneco is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Tenneco? 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 pass 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.