With its stock down 20% over the past month, it is easy to disregard Douglas Dynamics (NYSE:PLOW). 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. In this article, we decided to focus on Douglas Dynamics’ 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. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.
How To Calculate Return On Equity?
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 Douglas Dynamics is:
16% = US$39m ÷ US$237m (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).
The ‘return’ is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders’ equity, the company generated $0.16 in profit.
What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company’s future earnings. 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. 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.
Douglas Dynamics’ Earnings Growth And 16% ROE
At first glance, Douglas Dynamics seems to have a decent ROE. On comparing with the average industry ROE of 13% the company’s ROE looks pretty remarkable. For this reason, Douglas Dynamics’ five year net income decline of 18% raises the question as to why the high ROE didn’t translate into earnings growth. We reckon that there could be some other factors at play here that are preventing the company’s growth. Such as, the company pays out a huge portion of its earnings as dividends, or is faced with competitive pressures.
However, when we compared Douglas Dynamics’ growth with the industry we found that while the company’s earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 7.4% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.
Earnings growth is a huge factor in stock valuation. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. Is PLOW fairly valued? This infographic on the company’s intrinsic value has everything you need to know.
Is Douglas Dynamics Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?
Douglas Dynamics has a high three-year median payout ratio of 65% (that is, it is retaining 35% of its profits). This suggests that the company is paying most of its profits as dividends to its shareholders. This goes some way in explaining why its earnings have been shrinking. The business is only left with a small pool of capital to reinvest – A vicious cycle that doesn’t benefit the company in the long-run. You can see the 3 risks we have identified for Douglas Dynamics by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.
Additionally, Douglas Dynamics 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. Upon studying the latest analysts’ consensus data, we found that the company’s future payout ratio is expected to drop to 47% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company’s ROE to 21%, over the same period.
Overall, we feel that Douglas Dynamics certainly does have some positive factors to consider. Yet, the low earnings growth is a bit concerning, especially given that the company has a high rate of return. Investors could have benefitted from the high ROE, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings. As discussed earlier, the company is retaining a small portion of its profits. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. To know more about the company’s future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here