One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. By way of learning-by-doing, we’ll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of Wah Wo Holdings Group Limited (HKG:9938).
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.
Check out our latest analysis for Wah Wo Holdings Group
How Is ROE Calculated?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders’ Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Wah Wo Holdings Group is:
31% = HK$33m ÷ HK$106m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019).
The ‘return’ is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every HK$1 of its shareholder’s investments, the company generates a profit of HK$0.31.
Does Wah Wo Holdings Group Have A Good ROE?
By comparing a company’s ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. Pleasingly, Wah Wo Holdings Group has a superior ROE than the average (11%) in the Construction industry.
That’s clearly a positive. Bear in mind, a high ROE doesn’t always mean superior financial performance. A higher proportion of debt in a company’s capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk . You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Wah Wo Holdings Group by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.
How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?
Most companies need money — from somewhere — to grow their profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. 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.
Wah Wo Holdings Group’s Debt And Its 31% ROE
Although Wah Wo Holdings Group does use a little debt, its debt to equity ratio of just 0.055 is very low. Its ROE is very impressive, and given only modest debt, this suggests the business is high quality. Judicious use of debt to improve returns can certainly be a good thing, although it does elevate risk slightly and reduce future optionality.
Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.
Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you’ll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth — and how much investment is required going forward. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Of course Wah Wo Holdings Group may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.
Love or hate this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email [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. 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. Thank you for reading.