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Why The Eastern Company’s (NASDAQ:EML) ROE Of 8.97% Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Lee Kay

The Eastern Company (NASDAQ:EML) delivered a less impressive 8.97% ROE over the past year, compared to the 11.27% return generated by its industry. An investor may attribute an inferior ROE to a relatively inefficient performance, and whilst this can often be the case, knowing the nuts and bolts of the ROE calculation may change that perspective and give you a deeper insight into EML’s past performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of EML’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. See our latest analysis for Eastern

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

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs Eastern’s profit against the level of its shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests $1 in the form of equity, it will generate $0.09 in earnings from this. 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

Returns are usually compared to costs to measure the efficiency of capital. Eastern’s cost of equity is 9.71%. This means Eastern’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -0.74%. 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

NasdaqGM:EML Last Perf Mar 15th 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 shows how much revenue Eastern can generate with its current 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 ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Eastern’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. At 40.74%, Eastern’s debt-to-equity ratio appears low and indicates that Eastern still has room to increase leverage and grow its profits.

NasdaqGM:EML Historical Debt Mar 15th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Eastern’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 Eastern, there are three relevant aspects 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 Eastern 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 Eastern is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Eastern? 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.