November 30, 2021

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Is Spectra Systems Corporation’s (LON:SPSC) 11% ROE Better Than Average?

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we’ll use ROE to better understand Spectra Systems Corporation (LON:SPSC).

Spectra Systems has a ROE of 11%, based on the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this, is that for each £1 of shareholders’ equity it has, the company made £0.11 in profit.

Check out our latest analysis for Spectra Systems

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

Or for Spectra Systems:

11% = US$2.6m ÷ US$25m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

It’s easy to understand the ‘net profit’ part of that equation, but ‘shareholders’ equity’ requires further explanation. It is all earnings retained by the company, plus any capital paid in by shareholders. The easiest way to calculate shareholders’ equity is to subtract the company’s total liabilities from the total assets.

What Does Return On Equity Signify?

ROE looks at the amount a company earns relative to the money it has kept within the business. The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that the higher the ROE, the more profitable the company is. So, all else equal, investors should like a high ROE. That means ROE can be used to compare two businesses.

Does Spectra Systems Have A Good Return On Equity?

By comparing a company’s ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. The image below shows that Spectra Systems has an ROE that is roughly in line with the Electronic industry average (11%).

AIM:SPSC Past Revenue and Net Income, March 16th 2020

That’s not overly surprising. ROE tells us about the quality of the business, but it does not give us much of an idea if the share price is cheap. If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the debt used for growth will improve returns, but won’t affect the total equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

Spectra Systems’s Debt And Its 11% ROE

Shareholders will be pleased to learn that Spectra Systems has not one iota of net debt! Its solid ROE indicates a good business, especially when you consider it is not using leverage. At the end of the day, when a company has zero debt, it is in a better position to take future growth opportunities.

In Summary

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth — and how much investment is required going forward. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: Spectra Systems may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at [email protected] 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.

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