SThree plc's (LON:STEM) Stock Has Been Sliding But Fundamentals Look Strong: Is The Market Wrong?

·4 min read

It is hard to get excited after looking at SThree's (LON:STEM) recent performance, when its stock has declined 24% over the past three months. 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. In this article, we decided to focus on SThree's ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder's equity.

Check out our latest analysis for SThree

How Is ROE Calculated?

ROE can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for SThree is:

27% = UK£42m ÷ UK£158m (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2021).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. That means that for every £1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated £0.27 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned 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. 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.

SThree's Earnings Growth And 27% ROE

To begin with, SThree has a pretty high ROE which is interesting. Second, a comparison with the average ROE reported by the industry of 14% also doesn't go unnoticed by us. However, for some reason, the higher returns aren't reflected in SThree's meagre five year net income growth average of 3.1%. This is generally not the case as when a company has a high rate of return it should usually also have a high earnings growth rate. Such a scenario is likely to take place when a company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that SThree's growth is quite high when compared to the industry average growth of 0.6% in the same period, which is great to see.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

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). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. If you're wondering about SThree's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is SThree Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Despite having a moderate three-year median payout ratio of 35% (implying that the company retains the remaining 65% of its income), SThree's earnings growth was quite low. So there could be some other explanation in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

Additionally, SThree 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. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 33%. Therefore, the company's future ROE is also not expected to change by much with analysts predicting an ROE of 24%.

Summary

In total, we are pretty happy with SThree's performance. Specifically, we like that the company is reinvesting a huge chunk of its profits at a high rate of return. This of course has caused the company to see substantial growth in its earnings. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings are expected to accelerate. 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. 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.