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Has Santos Limited (ASX:STO) Stock's Recent Performance Got Anything to Do With Its Financial Health?

Santos' (ASX:STO) stock up by 8.7% over the past three months. As most would know, long-term fundamentals have a strong correlation with market price movements, so we decided to look at the company's key financial indicators today to determine if they have any role to play in the recent price movement. Specifically, we decided to study Santos' ROE in this article.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

Check out our latest analysis for Santos

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Santos is:

9.3% = US$1.4b ÷ US$15b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2023).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each A$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made A$0.09 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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. 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.

Santos' Earnings Growth And 9.3% ROE

When you first look at it, Santos' ROE doesn't look that attractive. 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 15%. However, we we're pleasantly surprised to see that Santos grew its net income at a significant rate of 33% in the last five years. So, there might be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.

As a next step, we compared Santos' net income growth with the industry and found that the company has a similar growth figure when compared with the industry average growth rate of 33% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. Is Santos fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is Santos Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Santos' three-year median payout ratio is a pretty moderate 40%, meaning the company retains 60% of its income. So it seems that Santos is reinvesting efficiently in a way that it sees impressive growth in its earnings (discussed above) and pays a dividend that's well covered.

Additionally, Santos has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 57% over the next three years. Despite the higher expected payout ratio, the company's ROE is not expected to change by much.

Summary

On the whole, we do feel that Santos has some positive attributes. Despite its low rate of return, the fact that the company reinvests a very high portion of its profits into its business, no doubt contributed to its high earnings growth. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings growth is expected to slow down. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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.