It is hard to get excited after looking at Freeport-McMoRan's (NYSE:FCX) recent performance, when its stock has declined 13% over the past three months. However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financial performance over the long term, which in this case looks quite promising. Specifically, we decided to study Freeport-McMoRan'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.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Freeport-McMoRan is:
12% = US$2.4b ÷ US$20b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 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 $0.12 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. 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. 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.
Freeport-McMoRan's Earnings Growth And 12% ROE
To start with, Freeport-McMoRan's ROE looks acceptable. Be that as it may, the company's ROE is still quite lower than the industry average of 15%. Still, we can see that Freeport-McMoRan has seen a remarkable net income growth of 61% over the past five years. Therefore, there could be other causes behind this growth. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently. However, not to forget, the company does have a decent ROE to begin with, just that it is lower than the industry average. So this also does lend some color to the high earnings growth seen by the company.
Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that Freeport-McMoRan's growth is quite high when compared to the industry average growth of 14% in the same period, which is great to see.
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). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. If you're wondering about Freeport-McMoRan's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.
Is Freeport-McMoRan Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Freeport-McMoRan has a really low three-year median payout ratio of 5.5%, meaning that it has the remaining 94% left over to reinvest into its business. This suggests that the management is reinvesting most of the profits to grow the business as evidenced by the growth seen by the company.
Besides, Freeport-McMoRan has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 27% over the next three years. However, Freeport-McMoRan's future ROE is expected to rise to 16% 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.
Overall, we are quite pleased with Freeport-McMoRan's performance. In particular, it's great to see that the company has seen significant growth in its earnings backed by a respectable ROE and a high reinvestment rate. With that said, on studying the latest analyst forecasts, we found that while the company has seen growth in its past earnings, analysts expect its future earnings to shrink. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
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.
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