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Why FLIR Systems Inc (NASDAQ:FLIR) Delivered An Inferior ROE Compared To The Industry

Sebastian Eder

FLIR Systems Inc’s (NASDAQ:FLIR) most recent return on equity was a substandard 5.85% relative to its industry performance of 10.08% over the past year. FLIR’s results could indicate a relatively inefficient operation to its peers, and while this may be the case, it is important to understand what ROE is made up of and how it should be interpreted. Knowing these components could change your view on FLIR’s performance. Today I will look at how components such as financial leverage can influence ROE which may impact the sustainability of FLIR’s returns. See our latest analysis for FLIR Systems

Breaking down Return on Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) weighs FLIR Systems’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. 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 FLIR Systems, which is 9.66%. This means FLIR Systems’s returns actually do not cover its own cost of equity, with a discrepancy of -3.82%. 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:FLIR Last Perf Feb 18th 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 FLIR Systems 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 financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt FLIR Systems currently has. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a low 22.93%, which means FLIR Systems still has headroom to take on more leverage in order to increase profits.

NasdaqGS:FLIR Historical Debt Feb 18th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. FLIR Systems exhibits a weak ROE against its peers, as well as insufficient levels to cover its own cost of equity this year. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of FLIR Systems’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For FLIR Systems, there are three key aspects you should further research:

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.