With its stock down 7.9% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Chevron (NYSE:CVX). It is possible that the markets have ignored the company's differing financials and decided to lean-in to the negative sentiment. Stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financial performance over the long term, and therefore we decided to pay more attention to the company's financial performance. Specifically, we decided to study Chevron's 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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.
How Is ROE Calculated?
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 Chevron is:
2.6% = US$3.8b ÷ US$145b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020).
The 'return' is the yearly profit. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.03 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
Thus far, we have learnt that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or "retains" for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. 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.
Chevron's Earnings Growth And 2.6% ROE
As you can see, Chevron's ROE looks pretty weak. Even compared to the average industry ROE of 10%, the company's ROE is quite dismal. Although, we can see that Chevron saw a modest net income growth of 10% over the past five years. We believe that there might be other aspects that are positively influencing the company's earnings growth. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Chevron's reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 26% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.
Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Has the market priced in the future outlook for CVX? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.
Is Chevron Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?
While Chevron has a three-year median payout ratio of 61% (which means it retains 39% 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.
Additionally, Chevron has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 102% over the next three years. However, Chevron's future ROE is expected to rise to 7.7% despite the expected increase in the company's payout ratio. We infer that there could be other factors that could be driving the anticipated growth in the company's ROE.
In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Chevron's performance. While no doubt its earnings growth is pretty respectable, the low profit retention could mean that the company's earnings growth could have been higher, had it been paying reinvesting a higher portion of its profits. An improvement in its ROE could also help future earnings growth. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. 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.
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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. 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. Thank you for reading.