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Could The Market Be Wrong About Greggs plc (LON:GRG) Given Its Attractive Financial Prospects?

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·4-min read
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It is hard to get excited after looking at Greggs' (LON:GRG) recent performance, when its stock has declined 4.1% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financial performance over the long term, which in this case looks quite promising. Specifically, we decided to study Greggs' 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 short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

View our latest analysis for Greggs

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 Greggs is:

27% = UK£118m ÷ UK£429m (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2022).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each £1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made £0.27 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And 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. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

A Side By Side comparison of Greggs' Earnings Growth And 27% ROE

To begin with, Greggs has a pretty high ROE which is interesting. Secondly, even when compared to the industry average of 9.3% the company's ROE is quite impressive. Despite this, Greggs' 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.

Given that the industry shrunk its earnings at a rate of 23% in the same period, the net income growth of the company is quite impressive.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. 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. If you're wondering about Greggs''s valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Greggs Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Greggs' low three-year median payout ratio of 21% (implying that the company keeps79% of its income) should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings to fuel its growth and this should be reflected in its growth number, but that's not the case.

Moreover, Greggs has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 51% over the next three years. Regardless, the ROE is not expected to change much for the company despite the higher expected payout ratio.

Conclusion

Overall, we are quite pleased with Greggs' performance. Specifically, we like that the company is reinvesting a huge chunk of its profits at a high rate of return. This of course has caused the company to see substantial growth in its earnings. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. 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.

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