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Waste Connections, Inc.'s (NYSE:WCN) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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With its stock down 1.9% over the past week, it is easy to disregard Waste Connections (NYSE:WCN). However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. In this article, we decided to focus on Waste Connections' ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

Check out our latest analysis for Waste Connections

How Is ROE Calculated?

ROE can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Waste Connections is:

3.1% = US$207m ÷ US$6.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.03 in profit.

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. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

Waste Connections' Earnings Growth And 3.1% ROE

As you can see, Waste Connections' ROE looks pretty weak. Not just that, even compared to the industry average of 10%, the company's ROE is entirely unremarkable. In spite of this, Waste Connections was able to grow its net income considerably, at a rate of 30% in the last five years. We believe that there might be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.

We then compared Waste Connections' net income growth with the industry and we're pleased to see that the company's growth figure is higher when compared with the industry which has a growth rate of 12% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. If you're wondering about Waste Connections''s valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Waste Connections Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Waste Connections has a three-year median payout ratio of 29% (where it is retaining 71% of its income) which is not too low or not too high. By the looks of it, the dividend is well covered and Waste Connections is reinvesting its profits efficiently as evidenced by its exceptional growth which we discussed above.

Besides, Waste Connections has been paying dividends over a period of four years. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 29%. Still, forecasts suggest that Waste Connections' future ROE will rise to 12% even though the the company's payout ratio is not expected to change by much.

Summary

Overall, we feel that Waste Connections certainly does have some positive factors to consider. With a high rate of reinvestment, albeit at a low ROE, the company has managed to see a considerable growth in its earnings. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings are expected to accelerate. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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.