LEA

Lear Corporation's (NYSE:LEA) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

With its stock down 8.0% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard Lear (NYSE:LEA). However, stock prices are usually driven by a company’s financials over the long term, which in this case look pretty respectable. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Lear's ROE today.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

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 Lear is:

17% = US$841m ÷ US$4.9b (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2021).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each $1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made $0.17 in profit.

What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. 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.

Lear's Earnings Growth And 17% ROE

At first glance, Lear seems to have a decent ROE. Further, the company's ROE compares quite favorably to the industry average of 14%. For this reason, Lear's five year net income decline of 20% 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.

That being said, we compared Lear's performance with the industry and were concerned when we found that while the company has shrunk its earnings, the industry has grown its earnings at a rate of 0.9% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth
NYSE:LEA Past Earnings Growth August 16th 2021

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is LEA fairly valued? This infographic on the company's intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is Lear Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

When we piece together Lear's low three-year median payout ratio of 21% (where it is retaining 79% of its profits), calculated for the last three-year period, we are puzzled by the lack of growth. The low payout should mean that the company is retaining most of its earnings and consequently, should see some growth. So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For instance, the business has faced some headwinds.

In addition, Lear has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company is expected to drop to 3.2% over the next three years. Regardless, the ROE is not expected to change much for the company despite the lower expected payout ratio.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that Lear has some positive attributes. Although, we are disappointed to see a lack of growth in earnings even in spite of a high ROE and and a high reinvestment rate. We believe that there might be some outside factors that could be having a negative impact on the business. 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.

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.

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

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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