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Legal & General Group Plc's (LON:LGEN) Stock Has Been Sliding But Fundamentals Look Strong: Is The Market Wrong?

Simply Wall St

Legal & General Group (LON:LGEN) has had a rough three months with its share price down 35%. But if you pay close attention, you might gather that its strong financials could mean that the stock could potentially see an increase in value in the long-term, given how markets usually reward companies with good financial health. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Legal & General Group'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. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

See our latest analysis for Legal & General Group

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 Legal & General Group is:

19% = UK£1.8b ÷ UK£9.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every £1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn £0.19 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learnt 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 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 Legal & General Group's Earnings Growth And 19% ROE

To begin with, Legal & General Group seems to have a respectable ROE. Especially when compared to the industry average of 13% the company's ROE looks pretty impressive. Probably as a result of this, Legal & General Group was able to see a decent growth of 14% over the last five years.

We then performed a comparison between Legal & General Group's net income growth with the industry, which revealed that the company's growth is similar to the average industry growth of 13% in the same period.

LSE:LGEN Past Earnings Growth April 17th 2020

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. If you're wondering about Legal & General Group's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Legal & General Group Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

The high three-year median payout ratio of 62% (or a retention ratio of 38%) for Legal & General Group suggests that the company's growth wasn't really hampered despite it returning most of its income to its shareholders.

Besides, Legal & General Group has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. 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 61%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 17%.

Summary

On the whole, we feel that Legal & General Group's performance has been quite good. We are particularly impressed by the considerable earnings growth posted by the company, which was likely backed by its high ROE. While the company is paying out most of its earnings as dividends, it has been able to grow its earnings in spite of it, so that's probably a good sign. That being so, a study of the latest analyst forecasts show that the company is expected to see a slowdown in its future earnings growth. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.