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Why Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ:SFNC) Delivered An Inferior ROE Compared To The Industry

Pam Parks

Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ:SFNC) generated a below-average return on equity of 8.40% in the past 12 months, while its industry returned 8.91%. SFNC’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 SFNC’s performance. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of SFNC’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. View our latest analysis for Simmons First National

What you must know about ROE

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of Simmons First National’s profit relative to its shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 8.40% implies $0.08 returned on every $1 invested. 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 Simmons First National’s equity capital deployed. Its cost of equity is 9.75%. Given a discrepancy of -1.35% between return and cost, this indicated that Simmons First National may be paying more for its capital than what it’s generating in return. ROE can be broken down into three different 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:SFNC Last Perf Jan 22nd 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 shows how much revenue Simmons First National can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since ROE can be artificially increased through excessive borrowing, we should check Simmons First National’s historic debt-to-equity ratio. At 56.61%, Simmons First National’s debt-to-equity ratio appears sensible and indicates its ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

NasdaqGS:SFNC Historical Debt Jan 22nd 18

Next Steps:

While ROE is a relatively simple calculation, it can be broken down into different ratios, each telling a different story about the strengths and weaknesses of a company. Simmons First National’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 Simmons First National, there are three pertinent 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 Simmons First National 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 Simmons First National is currently mispriced by the market.

3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Simmons First National? 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.