Return on Equity (ROE)

Return on equity or ROE measures the financial performance of a company. It divides the net income by the shareholder equity to get a percentage ratio. The shareholder equity value calculation removes the company debts from its assets. That is why return on net assets is what most consider ROE. Return on equity measures profitability in association with stockholder equity in a corporation.

Three Key Importances of Return on Equity

  • It measures company profitability relative to the stockholder equity.
  • A satisfactory ROE gets set by your company peers or the industry standards.
  • Investors should look for an ROE near the average of the S&P 500, which is 14%. Anything under 10% would be considered a poor ratio. 

How to Calculate Return on Equity of a Company

If net income and stakeholder equity are both positive, you can calculate the ROE of the company. The figure is expressed as a percentage and can be a good sign to invest in a company.

Net income is income minus net expenses and tax that a company makes in a financial year. You can work out the shareholder equity by adding equity at the start of the given period.

The start and finish of the period should concur with the period in which you gain the acquisition of the net income.

Calculating ROE based on average equity over time is considered a good practice. By following this method, you can avoid any mismatch between the balance sheet and the income statement.

What Does Company ROE Tell You?

Depending on what the average is between industry peers determines whether the return on equity is good or bad. The sector you are in decides your ROE percentage. ROE of 10% or less is considered normal in the utility sector.

A retail firm or technology company with a small balance sheet that correlates to net income could have an ROE of 18% or more.

If the ROE is equal to or above the average of the industry peers, it is considered a good ROE to target for investors.

Here is an example; let us assume a company, KielTech, maintained an ROE of 18% over the last few years in comparison to the average of other companies, which was 15%.

An investor can see that KielTech is excellent at using the company assets to make profits.
High or Low ROE ratios differ significantly from one industry to another, hence research is imperative before deciding which company has the best ROE ratio. So do your best to aim for anything around 14% or more as it is an acceptable ratio.

Be aware of anything below 10%, as you could find that the company does not perform well using its assets.

Estimate Growth Rates with ROE

You can use ROE to determine the potential growth rates of a company and your investment.

The formula to estimate the growth rate of a company is to multiply the retention ratio by the ROE. Income reinvested in the company for future growth is known as the retention ratio.

Identifying Problems Using ROE

You might wonder why an average or a little above average ROE is good news for an investor. Why not consider looking for an ROE that is much higher than the average of its peer group? 

Well, if the ROE is massively high, the net income needs to be substantial compared to the company equity. That means that the company is performing well and could be a possible investment.

In most cases, high ROE is often caused by having a small equity account compared to the net income. That is a sign of risk, and investors should take note of companies with huge ROE ratios.

Some of the many problems encountered when dissecting an extremely high return on equity include inconsistent profits, excess debt, and negative net income.

Take note of the finer details when one of these problems arises. That way, you can determine if the ROE is worth the investment.

What Are The Limitation of ROE?

If a company has a high ROE, it might not be positive. Remember all the issues that might be causing the outsized ROE.

Negative ROE cannot be used to analyze a company, neither can it be compared against other companies with positive ROE. 

Return on Invested Capital, Why is it Important?

ROIC, or return on invested capital, takes the calculation of ROE a step further. ROE calculates how much profit a company makes relative to the shareholder equity. ROIC’s purpose is to calculate the money made after dividends a business makes based on all its capital, including debt and shareholders equity.

In short, ROIC determines how well a business makes use of its available capital to a financial advantage.

An Example of ROE in Use

Imagine a company with an annual income of $1,800,000, and the average shareholder equity value is $12,000,000. The ROE calculation for the company would be as follows $1,800,000 divided by $12,000,000 equals 15%.

Think of Apple during the financial year ending in September 2018. The company made $59 billion in net income. 

By the end of the year, the shareholders’ equity was $107 billion, comparing it to the $134 billion at the start of the year, leading Apple’s ROE to be at 49% or $59 billion.

Other peers in the same industry as Apple do not fare so well, bringing the return on equity up.

Final Thoughts

ROE and ROICE are imperative when trying to decide which company ROE is good or bad. It helps the investor correctly identify company profitability relative to its shareholder equity. These are factors to consider and can be highly beneficial to investment decision-making.

Study companies with average ROE and slightly above gives you an advantage. Analyzing company data that are relatable and are potential investments is a good investment strategy.

Always look for an average that is around 14% ( Industry dependant ) and steer clear of any company that is below 10%. The same goes for companies that have a super high return on equity ratio.

Follow these rules, and analyze companies based on the financial data of the yearly period.