Sunday, December 17, 2006
Return on Equity
Return on Equity (ROE, Return on average common equity) measures the rate of return on the ownership interest (shareholders' equity) of the common stock owners. ROE is viewed as one of the most important financial ratios. It measures a firm's efficiency at generating profits from every dollar of net assets, and shows how well a company uses investment dollars to generate earnings growth. ROE is equal to a fiscal year's net income (after preferred stock dividends but before common stock dividends) divided by total equity (excluding preferred shares), expressed as a percentage.
Return on equity reveals how much profit a company earned in comparison to the total amount of shareholder equity found on the balance sheet.
A business that has a high return on equity is more likely to be one that is capable of generating cash internally. For the most part, the higher a company’s return on equity compared to its industry, the better.
If you owned a business that had a net worth [shareholder’s equity] of $100 million dollars and it made $5 million in profit, it would be earning 5% on your equity [$5 / $100 = .05, or 5%]. The higher you can get the “return” on your equity, in this case 5%, the better.
Why Warren Buffet Says "Focus on return on equity, not, earning per share". ?
Return on equity is particularly important because it can help you cut through the garbage spieled out by most CEO’s in their annual reports about, “achieving record earnings”. Warren Buffett pointed out years ago that achieving higher earnings each year is an easy task. Why? Each year, a successful company generates profits. If management did nothing more than retain those earnings and stick them a simple passbook savings account yielding 4% annually, they would be able to report “record earnings” because of the interest they earned. Were the shareholders better off? Not at all; they would have enjoyed heftier returns had the earnings been paid out. This makes obvious that investors cannot look at rising per-share earnings each year as a sign of success. The return on equity figure takes into account the retained earnings from previous years, and tells investors how effectively their capital is being reinvested. Thus, it serves as a far better gauge of management’s fiscal adeptness than the annual earnings per share.