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Why Biglari Holdings Inc’s (NYSE:BH) ROE Of 8.76% Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Brent Freeman

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to better understand how you can grow your money by investing in Biglari Holdings Inc (NYSE:BH).

Biglari Holdings Inc (NYSE:BH) delivered a less impressive 8.76% ROE over the past year, compared to the 13.67% return generated by its industry. Though BH’s recent performance is underwhelming, it is useful to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components can change your views on BH’s below-average returns. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of BH’s returns. Check out our latest analysis for Biglari Holdings

Peeling the layers of ROE – trisecting a company’s profitability

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Biglari Holdings’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. Generally speaking, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are other factors we must also consider before making any conclusions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Biglari Holdings, which is 11.82%. This means Biglari Holdings’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -3.05%. This isn’t sustainable as it implies, very simply, that the company pays more for its capital than what it generates in return. ROE can be split up into three useful ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

NYSE:BH Last Perf June 22nd 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Biglari Holdings’s asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Biglari Holdings currently has. The debt-to-equity ratio currently stands at a sensible 46.16%, meaning the ROE is a result of its capacity to produce profit growth without a huge debt burden.

NYSE:BH Historical Debt June 22nd 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Biglari Holdings’s below-industry ROE is disappointing, furthermore, its returns were not even high enough to cover its own cost of equity. However, ROE is not likely to be inflated by excessive debt funding, giving shareholders more conviction in the sustainability of returns, which has headroom to increase further. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Biglari Holdings, there are three important factors you should further examine:

  1. Financial Health: Does it have a healthy balance sheet? Take a look at our free balance sheet analysis with six simple checks on key factors like leverage and risk.
  2. Valuation: What is Biglari Holdings worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether Biglari Holdings is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Biglari Holdings? Explore our interactive list of stocks with large growth potential to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!


To help readers see pass 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.