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Does Equity Residential's (NYSE:EQR) Weak Fundamentals Mean A Downturn In Its Stock Should Be Expected?

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Most readers would already know that Equity Residential's (NYSE:EQR) stock increased by 3.6% over the past month. Given that the markets usually pay for the long-term financial health of a company, we wonder if the current momentum in the share price will keep up, given that the company's financials don't look very promising. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Equity Residential's ROE today.

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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for Equity Residential

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 Equity Residential is:

6.7% = US$747m ÷ US$11b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.07 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. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of Equity Residential's Earnings Growth And 6.7% ROE

On the face of it, Equity Residential's ROE is not much to talk about. Yet, a closer study shows that the company's ROE is similar to the industry average of 5.8%. Having said that, Equity Residential's five year net income decline rate was 35%. Bear in mind, the company does have a slightly low ROE. Hence, this goes some way in explaining the shrinking earnings.

However, when we compared Equity Residential's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 9.0% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. 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 EQR fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is Equity Residential Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Equity Residential seems to be paying out most of its income as dividends judging by its three-year median payout ratio of 64% (meaning, the company retains only 36% of profits). However, this is typical for REITs as they are often required by law to distribute most of their earnings. Accordingly, this likely explains why its earnings have been shrinking.

In addition, Equity Residential has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 76%. As a result, Equity Residential's ROE is not expected to change by much either, which we inferred from the analyst estimate of 6.0% for future ROE.

Summary

On the whole, Equity Residential's performance is quite a big let-down. As a result of its low ROE and lack of much reinvestment into the business, the company has seen a disappointing earnings growth rate. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page for the company.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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