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Is Texas Pacific Land Trust’s (NYSE:TPL) ROE Of 77% Impressive?

Alexis Guardo

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). We’ll use ROE to examine Texas Pacific Land Trust (NYSE:TPL), by way of a worked example.

Over the last twelve months Texas Pacific Land Trust has recorded a ROE of 77%. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders’ equity, it generated $0.77 in profit.

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How Do I Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

Or for Texas Pacific Land Trust:

77% = 150.806 ÷ US$195m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

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. The easiest way to calculate shareholders’ equity is to subtract the company’s total liabilities from the total assets.

What Does Return On Equity Signify?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. The higher the ROE, the more profit the company is making. So, as a general rule, a high ROE is a good thing. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Texas Pacific Land Trust Have A Good Return On Equity?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, Texas Pacific Land Trust has a higher ROE than the average (12%) in the Oil and Gas industry.

NYSE:TPL Last Perf January 11th 19

That’s what I like to see. I usually take a closer look when a company has a better ROE than industry peers. For example you might check if insiders are buying shares.

How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Most companies need money — from somewhere — to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. 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. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining Texas Pacific Land Trust’s Debt And Its 77% Return On Equity

Shareholders will be pleased to learn that Texas Pacific Land Trust has not one iota of net debt! Its high ROE already points to a high quality business, but the lack of debt is a cherry on top. After all, with cash on the balance sheet, a company has a lot more optionality in good times and bad.

But It’s Just One Metric

Return on equity is one way we can compare the business quality of different companies. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. 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.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you’ll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

If you would prefer check out another company — one with potentially superior financials — then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.

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.