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The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TRV) Stock Is Going Strong But Fundamentals Look Uncertain: What Lies Ahead ?

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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Travelers Companies' (NYSE:TRV) stock is up by a considerable 30% over the past three months. However, we decided to pay attention to the company's fundamentals which don't appear to give a clear sign about the company's financial health. In this article, we decided to focus on Travelers Companies' ROE.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Travelers Companies

How Do You 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 Travelers Companies is:

8.1% = US$2.3b ÷ US$28b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.08.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

Travelers Companies' Earnings Growth And 8.1% ROE

At first glance, Travelers Companies' ROE doesn't look very promising. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 8.3%. But Travelers Companies saw a five year net income decline of 9.0% over the past five years. Remember, the company's ROE is a bit low to begin with. So that's what might be causing earnings growth to shrink.

However, when we compared Travelers Companies' growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 6.8% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. What is TRV worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether TRV is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Travelers Companies Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 35% (that is, a retention ratio of 65%), the fact that Travelers Companies' earnings have shrunk is quite puzzling. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.

Additionally, Travelers Companies has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 27% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company's ROE to 13%, over the same period.

Conclusion

On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by Travelers Companies can be open to many interpretations. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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.