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RPS Group plc's (LON:RPS) Financials Are Too Obscure To Link With Current Share Price Momentum: What's In Store For the Stock?

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RPS Group's (LON:RPS) stock up by 9.4% over the past three months. Given that the stock prices usually follow long-term business performance, we wonder if the company's mixed financials could have any adverse effect on its current price price movement Specifically, we decided to study RPS Group's ROE in this article.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

See our latest analysis for RPS 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 RPS Group is:

1.6% = UK£5.7m ÷ UK£348m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

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 £0.02 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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.

RPS Group's Earnings Growth And 1.6% ROE

As you can see, RPS Group's ROE looks pretty weak. Not just that, even compared to the industry average of 8.6%, the company's ROE is entirely unremarkable. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 39% seen by RPS Group over the last five years is not surprising. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. For instance, the company has a very high payout ratio, or is faced with competitive pressures.

However, when we compared RPS Group's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 4.5% 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. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Has the market priced in the future outlook for RPS? You can find out in our latest intrinsic value infographic research report.

Is RPS Group Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

RPS Group's low three-year median payout ratio of 6.0% (or a retention ratio of 94%) over the last three years should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings to fuel its growth but the company's earnings have actually shrunk. The low payout should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings and consequently, should see some growth. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For example, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Additionally, RPS Group has paid dividends over a period of at least ten years, which means that the company's management is determined to pay dividends even if it means little to no earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 43% over the next three years. However, RPS Group's future ROE is expected to rise to 6.2% 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.

Summary

Overall, we have mixed feelings about RPS Group. While the company does have a high rate of reinvestment, the low ROE means that all that reinvestment is not reaping any benefit to its investors, and moreover, its having a negative impact on the earnings growth. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. 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.

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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