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Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) has had a rough three months with its share price down 13%. It seems that the market might have completely ignored the positive aspects of the company's fundamentals and decided to weigh-in more on the negative aspects. Long-term fundamentals are usually what drive market outcomes, so it's worth paying close attention. Specifically, we decided to study Walgreens Boots Alliance's ROE in this article.
Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.
How Is ROE Calculated?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Walgreens Boots Alliance is:
9.7% = US$2.2b ÷ US$23b (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2021).
The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.10 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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.
A Side By Side comparison of Walgreens Boots Alliance's Earnings Growth And 9.7% ROE
At first glance, Walgreens Boots Alliance's ROE doesn't look very promising. However, given that the company's ROE is similar to the average industry ROE of 12%, we may spare it some thought. But then again, Walgreens Boots Alliance's five year net income shrunk at a rate of 22%. Remember, the company's ROE is a bit low to begin with. So that's what might be causing earnings growth to shrink.
So, as a next step, we compared Walgreens Boots Alliance's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 8.0% in the same period.
Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. If you're wondering about Walgreens Boots Alliance's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.
Is Walgreens Boots Alliance Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
In spite of a normal three-year median payout ratio of 38% (that is, a retention ratio of 63%), the fact that Walgreens Boots Alliance's earnings have shrunk is quite puzzling. It looks like there might be some other reasons to explain the lack in that respect. For example, the business could be in decline.
Additionally, Walgreens Boots Alliance 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 is expected to keep paying out approximately 37% of its profits over the next three years. Still, forecasts suggest that Walgreens Boots Alliance's future ROE will rise to 17% even though the the company's payout ratio is not expected to change by much.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Walgreens Boots Alliance's performance. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. 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.
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