Cochlear's (ASX:COH) stock is up by 1.5% over the past three months. We wonder if and what role the company's financials play in that price change as a company's long-term fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes. Specifically, we decided to study Cochlear's ROE in this article.
ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
Return on equity can be calculated by using the formula:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Cochlear is:
17% = AU$289m ÷ AU$1.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each A$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made A$0.17 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.
A Side By Side comparison of Cochlear's Earnings Growth And 17% ROE
At first glance, Cochlear seems to have a decent ROE. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 9.4% the company's ROE looks pretty remarkable. As you might expect, the 6.6% net income decline reported by Cochlear is a bit of a surprise. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.
Furthermore, even when compared to the industry, which has been shrinking its earnings at a rate 0.5% in the same period, we found that Cochlear's performance is pretty disappointing, as it suggests that the company has been shrunk its earnings at a rate faster than the industry.
Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is Cochlear fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
Is Cochlear Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Cochlear has a high three-year median payout ratio of 66% (that is, it is retaining 34% of its profits). This suggests that the company is paying most of its profits as dividends to its shareholders. This goes some way in explaining why its earnings have been shrinking. With only very little left to reinvest into the business, growth in earnings is far from likely.
In addition, Cochlear has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 75% of its profits over the next three years. As a result, Cochlear's ROE is not expected to change by much either, which we inferred from the analyst estimate of 20% for future ROE.
On the whole, we do feel that Cochlear has some positive attributes. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE. Bear in mind, the company reinvests a small portion of its profits, which means that investors aren't reaping the benefits of the high rate of return. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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