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Why Hexagon Composites ASA’s (OB:HEX) ROE Of 9.3% Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Cameron Brookes

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to start learning about core concepts of fundamental analysis on practical examples from today’s market.

Hexagon Composites ASA (OB:HEX) delivered a less impressive 9.3% ROE over the past year, compared to the 12.0% 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 HEX’s past performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of HEX’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this.

Check out our latest analysis for Hexagon Composites

Breaking down Return on Equity

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests NOK1 in the form of equity, it will generate NOK0.093 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. Hexagon Composites’s cost of equity is 9.0%. Some of Hexagon Composites’s peers may have a higher ROE but its cost of equity could exceed this return, leading to an unsustainable negative discrepancy i.e. the company spends more than it earns. This is not the case for Hexagon Composites which is reassuring. 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

OB:HEX Last Perf August 28th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. The other component, asset turnover, illustrates how much revenue Hexagon Composites can make from its 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 inflated by excessive debt, we need to examine Hexagon Composites’s debt-to-equity level. Currently the debt-to-equity ratio stands at a low 26.1%, which means Hexagon Composites still has headroom to take on more leverage in order to increase profits.

OB:HEX Historical Debt August 28th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Although Hexagon Composites’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, its returns are high enough to cover the cost of equity. Its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Hexagon Composites’s return with a possible increase should the company decide to increase its debt levels. Although ROE can be a useful metric, it is only a small part of diligent research.

For Hexagon Composites, there are three fundamental aspects you should further research:

  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 Hexagon Composites 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 Hexagon Composites is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Hexagon Composites? 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 past 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. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.