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Nufarm Limited (ASX:NUF) Is Going Strong But Fundamentals Appear To Be Mixed : Is There A Clear Direction For The Stock?

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Most readers would already be aware that Nufarm's (ASX:NUF) stock increased significantly by 40% over the past three months. But the company's key financial indicators appear to be differing across the board and that makes us question whether or not the company's current share price momentum can be maintained. In this article, we decided to focus on Nufarm's ROE.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Nufarm

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 Nufarm is:

3.1% = AU$65m ÷ AU$2.1b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. That means that for every A$1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated A$0.03 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or "retain", we are then able to evaluate a company's future ability to generate profits. 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.

Nufarm's Earnings Growth And 3.1% ROE

As you can see, Nufarm's ROE looks pretty weak. An industry comparison shows that the company's ROE is not much different from the industry average of 3.4% either. Therefore, it might not be wrong to say that the five year net income decline of 68% seen by Nufarm was possibly a result of the disappointing ROE.

That being said, we compared Nufarm's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 22% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. 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. Has the market priced in the future outlook for NUF? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Nufarm Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Looking at its LTM (or last twelve month) payout ratio of 26% (or a retention ratio of 74%) which is pretty normal, Nufarm's declining earnings is rather baffling as one would expect to see a fair bit of growth when a company is retaining a good portion of its profits. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Additionally, Nufarm has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 33% over the next three years. However, Nufarm's future ROE is expected to rise to 5.5% despite the expected increase in the company's payout ratio. We infer that there could be other factors that could be driving the anticipated growth in the company's ROE.

Summary

On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by Nufarm can be open to many interpretations. While the company does have a high rate of reinvestment, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping any benefit to its investors, and moreover, its having a negative impact on the earnings growth. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. 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.

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

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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