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Are Marshalls plc's (LON:MSLH) Fundamentals Good Enough to Warrant Buying Given The Stock's Recent Weakness?

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With its stock down 13% over the past month, it is easy to disregard Marshalls (LON:MSLH). However, the company's fundamentals look pretty decent, and long-term financials are usually aligned with future market price movements. In this article, we decided to focus on Marshalls' ROE.

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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Marshalls

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE 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 Marshalls is:

5.0% = UK£14m ÷ UK£276m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every £1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated £0.05 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. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of Marshalls' Earnings Growth And 5.0% ROE

At first glance, Marshalls' ROE doesn't look very promising. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 9.2%. Marshalls was still able to see a decent net income growth of 9.7% over the past five years. So, there might be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Marshalls' reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 28% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Marshalls is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Marshalls Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

While the company did pay out a portion of its dividend in the past, it currently doesn't pay a dividend. We infer that the company has been reinvesting all of its profits to grow its business.

Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 47% of its profits over the next three years. However, Marshalls' ROE is predicted to rise to 16% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.

Summary

In total, it does look like Marshalls has some positive aspects to its business. Namely, its respectable earnings growth, which it achieved due to it retaining most of its profits. However, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings are expected to accelerate. 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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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