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Ashland Inc.'s (NYSE:ASH) Stock Is Going Strong: Have Financials A Role To Play?

Ashland's (NYSE:ASH) stock is up by a considerable 12% over the past month. Given that stock prices are usually aligned with a company's financial performance in the long-term, we decided to study its financial indicators more closely to see if they had a hand to play in the recent price move. In this article, we decided to focus on Ashland's ROE.

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 Ashland

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity can be calculated by using the formula:

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

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

5.6% = US$181m ÷ US$3.2b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.06.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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.

Ashland's Earnings Growth And 5.6% ROE

On the face of it, Ashland's ROE is not much to talk about. 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 18%. However, we we're pleasantly surprised to see that Ashland grew its net income at a significant rate of 23% in the last five years. We reckon that there could be other factors at play here. Such as - high earnings retention or an efficient management in place.

As a next step, we compared Ashland's net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 12%.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Has the market priced in the future outlook for ASH? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is Ashland Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

The three-year median payout ratio for Ashland is 40%, which is moderately low. The company is retaining the remaining 60%. This suggests that its dividend is well covered, and given the high growth we discussed above, it looks like Ashland is reinvesting its earnings efficiently.

Moreover, Ashland 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. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 22% over the next three years. The fact that the company's ROE is expected to rise to 9.4% over the same period is explained by the drop in the payout ratio.

Summary

On the whole, we do feel that Ashland has some positive attributes. With a high rate of reinvestment, albeit at a low ROE, the company has managed to see a considerable growth in its earnings. We also studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that the company's earnings growth is expected be similar to its current growth rate. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts 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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