## What is Return on Equity (ROE)?

Return on Equity (ROE) is a key financial metric that measures how efficiently a company generates profits from the money shareholders have invested. In other words, it shows how well a company is using the funds it has raised from shareholders to generate a return on their investment.

ROE is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing a company’s net income by its shareholders’ equity. The higher the ROE, the better the company is at generating profits from the money invested by shareholders. It is an important measure of a company’s profitability and is closely watched by investors and analysts.

### ROE as a Profitability Measure

ROE is one of the most important profitability ratios because it directly measures the amount of return generated on the shareholders’ equity. It shows how profitable a company is for the owners of the investment, and how efficiently a company’s management is using the investors’ funds to generate income.

A high ROE indicates that a company is generating a significant profit on the money shareholders have invested, while a low ROE suggests that the company may be struggling to generate a return on equity. By comparing a company’s ROE to its industry peers, investors can get a sense of how well the company is performing relative to its competitors.

### Importance of ROE for Investors

ROE is particularly important for investors who are practicing **value investing**, which involves identifying undervalued companies with strong management and solid financial performance. A consistently high ROE can be a sign of a company with a competitive advantage, skilled management, and the ability to grow profits over time.

By comparing the ROE of different companies, investors can make more informed decisions about where to put their money. All else being equal, a company with a higher ROE is likely to be a better investment than a company with a lower ROE. However, it’s important to consider ROE in the context of other financial metrics and to understand the factors that can influence a company’s ROE.

## How to Calculate Return on Equity

The **return on equity formula** is relatively straightforward. To calculate ROE, you divide a company’s net income by its shareholders’ equity, then multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.

Here’s the formula:

ROE = (Net Income / Shareholders' Equity) x 100

For example, if a company has a net income of $10 million and shareholders’ equity of $100 million, its ROE would be:

ROE = ($10,000,000 / $100,000,000) x 100 = 10%

### ROE Formula Components

To calculate ROE, you need two key pieces of information:

**Net income:**This is the company’s total profit after all expenses and taxes have been deducted. You can find net income on the company’s income statement.**Shareholders’ equity:**This represents the value of the shareholders’ interest in the company, which is equal to the company’s assets minus its liabilities. You can find shareholders’ equity on the company’s balance sheet.

It’s important to note that some companies may have preferred dividends, which are payments that must be made to preferred shareholders before common shareholders can receive dividends. If a company has preferred dividends, they should be subtracted from net income before the ROE calculation.

### Return on Equity Calculation Example

Let’s walk through a step-by-step **ROE calculation example** to see how it works in practice. Suppose Company XYZ has the following financial information:

- Net income: $5 million
- Shareholders’ equity: $25 million

To calculate Company XYZ’s ROE, we simply plug these numbers into the ROE formula:

ROE = ($5,000,000 / $25,000,000) x 100 = 20%

So Company XYZ has an ROE of 20%, which means it generates $0.20 of profit for every $1 of shareholders’ equity.

If you’re using a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, you can set up a simple **ROE excel formula**. Just enter the net income in one cell (e.g., A2), the shareholders’ equity in another cell (e.g., B2), and then enter the following formula in a third cell (e.g., C2):

=A2/B2*100

This will automatically calculate the ROE based on the net income and shareholders’ equity values you entered.

## Analyzing Return on Equity

Once you’ve calculated a company’s ROE, the next step is to analyze what the number actually means. Is the ROE high or low? How does it compare to the company’s peers and its own historical performance? What factors might be influencing the ROE?

### What is a Good ROE?

In general, a higher ROE is better than a lower ROE, because it means the company is more efficient at generating profits from the money shareholders have invested. However, there is no universal benchmark for a “good” ROE.

One way to assess whether an ROE is good is to compare it to the average ROE for the company’s industry. For example, if the average ROE for all companies in the industry is 10%, and a particular company’s ROE is 15%, that would be considered a good ROE.

Here are some examples of average ROEs for different industries (data as of January 2023):

Industry | Average ROE |
---|---|

Building Supply Retailers | 96% |

Broadcasting Companies | 82% |

Railroad Transportation Companies | 52% |

Consumer and Office Electronics Firms | -33% |

Precious Metals | -3% |

Tobacco | -3% |

As you can see, there is a wide range of average ROEs across different industries. What’s considered a “good” ROE in one industry might be considered a poor ROE in another.

### Factors Influencing ROE

There are several factors that can influence a company’s ROE, both positively and negatively. Understanding these factors can help investors interpret ROE numbers and make more informed comparisons between companies.

One key factor is **debt levels**. If a company has a lot of debt, it can boost its ROE by earning more on the borrowed money than it pays in interest. However, high debt levels also increase risk, since the company must continue making debt payments even if its profits decline.

**Share buybacks** can also boost ROE by reducing the shareholders’ equity denominator in the ROE calculation. However, this doesn’t necessarily reflect improved profitability.

**Asset write-downs**, which reduce the value of a company’s assets, can also artificially boost ROE by shrinking shareholders’ equity.

To get a more nuanced view of the factors influencing ROE, investors can conduct a **DuPont analysis**, which breaks ROE into three components: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage.

### Limitations of Return on Equity

While ROE is a very useful metric, it does have some **limitations** that investors should be aware of.

One issue is that ROE can be misleading for companies that require large initial investments, such as start-ups and growth companies. These companies may have low or even negative ROEs in their early years as they invest heavily in growth. For these types of companies, other metrics like revenue growth rate may be more useful.

ROE can also be distorted by **accounting loopholes**. For example, a company might boost its ROE by buying back shares or taking on more debt, even if its underlying profitability hasn’t changed.

Finally, a high ROE alone doesn’t necessarily make a stock a good investment. Investors should also consider factors like a company’s competitive advantages, growth prospects, and valuation. A company with a lower ROE but stronger competitive position and growth outlook might be a better investment than a company with a high ROE but weak fundamentals.

## ROE vs Other Financial Ratios

While ROE is an important financial ratio, it’s not the only one investors should consider. There are several other ratios that can provide insights into different aspects of a company’s financial performance.

### ROE vs Return on Assets (ROA)

Return on Assets (ROA) is similar to ROE, but instead of measuring return on shareholders’ equity, it measures return on **total assets**. The ROA formula is:

ROA = Net Income / Total Assets

The key difference between ROE and ROA is the denominator. ROE only considers the return on shareholders’ **equity**, while ROA considers the return on **all** of a company’s assets, including those funded by debt.

In general, a company with a high ROE and a low ROA is likely using a significant amount of debt financing. This can boost ROE, but it also increases financial risk.

### ROE vs Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) is another profitability ratio that measures how efficiently a company uses all of its available capital, including **equity and debt**, to generate profits. The ROIC formula is:

ROIC = Net Operating Profit After Tax / Invested Capital

The key difference between ROE and ROIC is that ROIC considers returns on **all** invested capital, not just equity capital. This can provide a more comprehensive view of a company’s profitability.

However, ROIC can be more difficult to calculate than ROE because it requires adjustments for taxes and off-balance-sheet items.

### ROE vs Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI) is a broader term that can refer to any investment, from a stock purchase to a real estate investment. When it comes to stocks, ROI measures the total return an investor earns on their investment, including capital gains and dividends.

The key difference between ROE and ROI is that ROI is from the investor’s perspective, while ROE is from the company’s perspective. ROI measures how much an individual investor earned on their investment, while ROE measures how efficiently the company used shareholders’ equity to generate profits.

Another difference is that ROI considers all of an investor’s returns (capital gains and dividends), while ROE only considers the company’s net income. ROI also doesn’t factor in debt, while ROE does.

**See also:**

- Internal Rate of Return (IRR): Formula, Definition, and Examples
- Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC): Definition, Formula, and Uses
- Tobin’s Q Ratio Definition, Formula, and Examples
- Earnings Per Share (EPS) Calculation: Formula, Examples, and Importance
- Beneish M-Score: Definition, Calculation, Examples

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