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Why Wilmar International Limited’s (SGX:F34) ROE Of 7.69% Does Not Tell The Whole Story

Kevin Zeng

Wilmar International Limited (SGX:F34) delivered a less impressive 7.69% ROE over the past year, compared to the 7.94% return generated by its industry. Though F34’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 F34’s below-average returns. Metrics such as financial leverage can impact the level of ROE which in turn can affect the sustainability of F34’s returns. Let me show you what I mean by this. See our latest analysis for Wilmar International

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

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. An ROE of 7.69% implies SGD0.08 returned on every SGD1 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 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 Wilmar International, which is 8.56%. Since Wilmar International’s return does not cover its cost, with a difference of -0.87%, this means its current use of equity is not efficient and not sustainable. Very simply, Wilmar International pays more for its capital than what it generates 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

SGX:F34 Last Perf Apr 4th 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 Wilmar International can generate with its current asset base. The most interesting ratio, and reflective of sustainability of its ROE, is financial leverage. Since financial leverage can artificially inflate ROE, we need to look at how much debt Wilmar International currently has. At 116.73%, Wilmar International’s debt-to-equity ratio appears balanced and indicates its ROE is generated from its capacity to increase profit without a large debt burden.

SGX:F34 Historical Debt Apr 4th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is a simple yet informative ratio, illustrating the various components that each measure the quality of the overall stock. Wilmar International’s ROE is underwhelming relative to the industry average, and its returns were also not strong enough to cover its own cost of equity. Although, its appropriate level of leverage means investors can be more confident in the sustainability of Wilmar International’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 Wilmar International, there are three pertinent 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 Wilmar International 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 Wilmar International is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Growth Alternatives : Are there other high-growth stocks you could be holding instead of Wilmar International? 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.