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Declining Stock and Decent Financials: Is The Market Wrong About Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSE:GWO)?

·3-min read

It is hard to get excited after looking at Great-West Lifeco's (TSE:GWO) recent performance, when its stock has declined 13% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. In this article, we decided to focus on Great-West Lifeco's ROE.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for Great-West Lifeco

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Great-West Lifeco is:

12% = CA$3.6b ÷ CA$30b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The 'return' is the yearly profit. That means that for every CA$1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated CA$0.12 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. 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.

Great-West Lifeco's Earnings Growth And 12% ROE

To start with, Great-West Lifeco's ROE looks acceptable. Even when compared to the industry average of 13% the company's ROE looks quite decent. This probably goes some way in explaining Great-West Lifeco's moderate 5.8% growth over the past five years amongst other factors.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Great-West Lifeco's reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 18% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.

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). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is Great-West Lifeco fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is Great-West Lifeco Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

While Great-West Lifeco has a three-year median payout ratio of 55% (which means it retains 45% of profits), the company has still seen a fair bit of earnings growth in the past, meaning that its high payout ratio hasn't hampered its ability to grow.

Moreover, Great-West Lifeco 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. Based on the latest analysts' estimates, we found that the company's future payout ratio over the next three years is expected to hold steady at 66%.

Summary

On the whole, we do feel that Great-West Lifeco has some positive attributes. Its earnings have grown respectably as we saw earlier, which was likely due to the company reinvesting its earnings at a pretty high rate of return. However, given the high ROE, we do think that the company is reinvesting a small portion of its profits. This could likely be preventing the company from growing to its full extent. 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 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.