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carsales.com Ltd's (ASX:CAR) Fundamentals Look Pretty Strong: Could The Market Be Wrong About The Stock?

·4-min read

With its stock down 8.3% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard carsales.com (ASX:CAR). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. Particularly, we will be paying attention to carsales.com's ROE today.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for carsales.com

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for carsales.com is:

15% = AU$145m ÷ AU$945m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every A$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of A$0.15.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

A Side By Side comparison of carsales.com's Earnings Growth And 15% ROE

At first glance, carsales.com seems to have a decent ROE. Especially when compared to the industry average of 12% the company's ROE looks pretty impressive. Despite this, carsales.com's five year net income growth was quite flat over the past five years. Based on this, we feel that there might be other reasons which haven't been discussed so far in this article that could be hampering the company's growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

We then compared carsales.com's net income growth with the industry and found that the company's growth figure is lower than the average industry growth rate of 10% in the same period, which is a bit concerning.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Is CAR fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is carsales.com Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 89% (implying that the company keeps only 11% of its income) of its business to reinvest into its business), most of carsales.com's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the absence of growth in earnings.

In addition, carsales.com 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 77%. Regardless, the future ROE for carsales.com is predicted to rise to 23% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that carsales.com 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. Having said that, looking at the current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings are expected to gain momentum. 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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