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Why Cal-Maine Foods Inc’s (NASDAQ:CALM) ROE Of 3.28% Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Cole Patterson

Cal-Maine Foods Inc (NASDAQ:CALM) delivered a less impressive 3.28% ROE over the past year, compared to the 11.80% return generated by its industry. Though CALM’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 CALM’s below-average returns. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of CALM’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. See our latest analysis for Cal-Maine Foods

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Cal-Maine Foods’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. It essentially shows how much the company can generate in earnings given the amount of equity it has raised. In most cases, a higher ROE is preferred; however, there are many other factors we must consider prior to making any investment decisions.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is measured against cost of equity in order to determine the efficiency of Cal-Maine Foods’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 8.49%. This means Cal-Maine Foods’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -5.22%. 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 dissected into three distinct 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

NasdaqGS:CALM Last Perf May 25th 18

The first component is profit margin, which measures how much of sales is retained after the company pays for all its expenses. Asset turnover reveals how much revenue can be generated from Cal-Maine Foods’s asset base. And finally, financial leverage is simply how much of assets are funded by equity, which exhibits how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Cal-Maine Foods currently has. Currently Cal-Maine Foods has virtually no debt, which means its returns are predominantly driven by equity capital. This could explain why Cal-Maine Foods’s’ ROE is lower than its industry peers, most of which may have some degree of debt in its business.

NasdaqGS:CALM Historical Debt May 25th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Cal-Maine Foods’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong 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 Cal-Maine Foods, there are three fundamental aspects you should look at:

  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 Cal-Maine Foods 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 Cal-Maine Foods is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Cal-Maine Foods? 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.