Hays plc (LON:HAS) Is Up But Financials Look Inconsistent: Which Way Is The Stock Headed?

·4 min read

Most readers would already know that Hays' (LON:HAS) stock increased by 8.6% over the past three months. Given that the stock prices usually follow long-term business performance, we wonder if the company's mixed financials could have any adverse effect on its current price price movement Particularly, we will be paying attention to Hays' 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. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Hays

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity 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 Hays is:

7.1% = UK£62m ÷ UK£872m (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every £1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of £0.07.

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. 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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of Hays' Earnings Growth And 7.1% ROE

At first glance, Hays' ROE doesn't look very promising. We then compared the company's ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 10%. Therefore, it might not be wrong to say that the five year net income decline of 19% seen by Hays was probably the result of it having a lower ROE. We reckon that there could also be other factors at play here. Such as - low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

However, when we compared Hays' growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 10.0% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

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. What is HAS worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether HAS is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Hays Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 33% (where it is retaining 67% of its profits), Hays has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.

Additionally, Hays 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 is expected to rise to 87% over the next three years. However, Hays' future ROE is expected to rise to 20% despite the expected increase in the company's payout ratio. We infer that there could be other factors that could be driving the anticipated growth in the company's ROE.

Summary

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Hays' performance. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company's earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. 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.

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.

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