It is hard to get excited after looking at West Pharmaceutical Services' (NYSE:WST) recent performance, when its stock has declined 29% over the past three months. However, a closer look at its sound financials might cause you to think again. Given that fundamentals usually drive long-term market outcomes, the company is worth looking at. Specifically, we decided to study West Pharmaceutical Services' ROE in this article.
Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.
How Is ROE Calculated?
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 West Pharmaceutical Services is:
29% = US$684m ÷ US$2.3b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).
The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.29 in profit.
Why Is ROE Important For 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 West Pharmaceutical Services' Earnings Growth And 29% ROE
Firstly, we acknowledge that West Pharmaceutical Services has a significantly high ROE. Secondly, even when compared to the industry average of 17% the company's ROE is quite impressive. Under the circumstances, West Pharmaceutical Services' considerable five year net income growth of 33% was to be expected.
We then performed a comparison between West Pharmaceutical Services' net income growth with the industry, which revealed that the company's growth is similar to the average industry growth of 35% in the same period.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. 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. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if West Pharmaceutical Services is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.
Is West Pharmaceutical Services Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
West Pharmaceutical Services' three-year median payout ratio to shareholders is 15%, which is quite low. This implies that the company is retaining 85% of its profits. This suggests that the management is reinvesting most of the profits to grow the business as evidenced by the growth seen by the company.
Moreover, West Pharmaceutical Services is determined to keep sharing its profits with shareholders which we infer from its long history of paying a dividend for at least ten years. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 7.6% over the next three years. However, West Pharmaceutical Services' future ROE is expected to decline to 20% despite the expected decline in its payout ratio. We infer that there could be other factors that could be steering the foreseen decline in the company's ROE.
Overall, we are quite pleased with West Pharmaceutical Services' performance. Particularly, we like that the company is reinvesting heavily into its business, and at a high rate of return. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an impressive earnings growth. Having said that, the company's earnings growth is expected to slow down, as forecasted in the current analyst estimates. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
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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.