Should Weakness in The Rank Group Plc's (LON:RNK) Stock Be Seen As A Sign That Market Will Correct The Share Price Given Decent Financials?

·4-min read

With its stock down 15% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Rank Group (LON:RNK). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Rank Group's ROE today.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

See our latest analysis for Rank Group

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for return on equity is:

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

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Rank Group is:

12% = UK£49m ÷ UK£406m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every £1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn £0.12 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company's future earnings. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming everything else remains unchanged, the higher the ROE and profit retention, the higher the growth rate of a company compared to companies that don't necessarily bear these characteristics.

A Side By Side comparison of Rank Group's Earnings Growth And 12% ROE

To start with, Rank Group's ROE looks acceptable. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 8.9% the company's ROE looks pretty remarkable. For this reason, Rank Group's five year net income decline of 11% raises the question as to why the high ROE didn't translate into earnings growth. Therefore, there might be some other aspects that could explain this. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.

So, as a next step, we compared Rank Group's performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 11% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. If you're wondering about Rank Group's's valuation, check out this gauge of its price-to-earnings ratio, as compared to its industry.

Is Rank Group Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

With a high three-year median payout ratio of 64% (implying that 36% of the profits are retained), most of Rank Group's profits are being paid to shareholders, which explains the company's shrinking earnings. With only a little being reinvested into the business, earnings growth would obviously be low or non-existent. To know the 3 risks we have identified for Rank Group visit our risks dashboard for free.

Moreover, Rank Group has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more suggesting that management must have perceived that the shareholders prefer dividends over earnings growth. Existing analyst estimates suggest that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 33% over the next three years. As a result, the expected drop in Rank Group's payout ratio explains the anticipated rise in the company's future ROE to 20%, over the same period.

Summary

In total, it does look like Rank Group has some positive aspects to its business. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE. Bear in mind, the company reinvests a small portion of its profits, which means that investors aren't reaping the benefits of the high rate of return. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that the analysts are expecting to see a huge improvement in the company's earnings growth rate. 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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting