With its stock down 2.9% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Anthem (NYSE:ANTM). However, a closer look at its sound financials might cause you to think again. Given that fundamentals usually drive long-term market outcomes, the company is worth looking at. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Anthem’s ROE today.
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.
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 Anthem is:
12% = US$4.2b ÷ US$35b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).
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 $0.12 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
So far, we’ve learned that ROE is a measure of a company’s profitability. 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. 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.
A Side By Side comparison of Anthem’s Earnings Growth And 12% ROE
To start with, Anthem’s ROE looks acceptable. Yet, the fact that the company’s ROE is lower than the industry average of 18% does temper our expectations. However, the moderate 14% net income growth seen by Anthem over the past five years is definitely a positive. Therefore, the growth in earnings could probably have been caused by other variables. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently. Bear in mind, the company does have a respectable level of ROE. It is just that the industry ROE is higher. So this also does lend some color to the fairly high earnings growth seen by the company.
We then performed a comparison between Anthem’s net income growth with the industry, which revealed that the company’s growth is similar to the average industry growth of 16% in the same period.
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. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is Anthem fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.
Is Anthem Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?
Anthem’s three-year median payout ratio to shareholders is 19% (implying that it retains 81% of its income), which is on the lower side, so it seems like the management is reinvesting profits heavily to grow its business.
Besides, Anthem has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 18%. Still, forecasts suggest that Anthem’s future ROE will rise to 18% even though the the company’s payout ratio is not expected to change by much.
On the whole, we feel that Anthem’s performance has been quite good. Particularly, we like that the company is reinvesting heavily into its business at a moderate rate of return. Unsurprisingly, this has led to an impressive earnings growth. 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.
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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