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Should Weakness in Nichols plc's (LON:NICL) Stock Be Seen As A Sign That Market Will Correct The Share Price Given Decent Financials?

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Simply Wall St
·4 min read
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With its stock down 13% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Nichols (LON:NICL). However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. Specifically, we decided to study Nichols' 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 simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

See our latest analysis for Nichols

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity 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 Nichols is:

14% = UK£18m ÷ UK£125m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every £1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated £0.14 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Nichols' Earnings Growth And 14% ROE

At first glance, Nichols seems to have a decent ROE. Further, the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 17%. Despite this, Nichols' five year net income growth was quite flat over the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

As a next step, we compared Nichols' net income growth with the industry and were disappointed to see that the company's growth is lower than the industry average growth of 3.8% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Is NICL fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is Nichols Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 54% (implying that the company keeps only 46% of its income) of its business to reinvest into its business), most of Nichols' profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the absence of growth in earnings.

Moreover, Nichols has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 60% of its profits over the next three years. Regardless, the future ROE for Nichols is predicted to rise to 17% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Summary

In total, it does look like Nichols has some positive aspects to its business. However, while the company does have a high ROE, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing. This can be blamed on the fact that it reinvests only a small portion of its profits and pays out the rest as dividends. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page 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@simplywallst.com.