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Swiss Re AG's (VTX:SREN) Stock Been Rising But Financials Look Weak: Should Shareholders Be Worried?

Swiss Re's (VTX:SREN) stock is up by 2.9% over the past three months. 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. In this article, we decided to focus on Swiss Re'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.

View our latest analysis for Swiss Re

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 Swiss Re is:

3.7% = US$553m ÷ US$15b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every CHF1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn CHF0.04 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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.

Swiss Re's Earnings Growth And 3.7% ROE

When you first look at it, Swiss Re's ROE doesn't look that attractive. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 10%. Given the circumstances, the significant decline in net income by 12% seen by Swiss Re over the last five years is not surprising. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. Such as - low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

That being said, we compared Swiss Re's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 1.3% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if Swiss Re is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is Swiss Re Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Swiss Re's very high three-year median payout ratio of 144% over the last three years suggests that the company is paying its shareholders more than what it is earning and this explains the company's shrinking earnings. Paying a dividend beyond their means is usually not viable over the long term. To know the 2 risks we have identified for Swiss Re visit our risks dashboard for free.

Moreover, Swiss Re has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 59% over the next three years. As a result, the expected drop in Swiss Re's payout ratio explains the anticipated rise in the company's future ROE to 16%, over the same period.

Conclusion

In total, we would have a hard think before deciding on any investment action concerning Swiss Re. The low ROE, combined with the fact that the company is paying out almost if not all, of its profits as dividends, has resulted in the lack or absence of growth in its earnings. 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.

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.

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