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Why Universe Pharmaceuticals INC (NASDAQ:UPC) Looks Like A Quality Company

While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE) and why it is important. We'll use ROE to examine Universe Pharmaceuticals INC (NASDAQ:UPC), by way of a worked example.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

How To 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 Universe Pharmaceuticals is:

36% = US$7.6m ÷ US$21m (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

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 $0.36 in profit.

Does Universe Pharmaceuticals Have A Good ROE?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Universe Pharmaceuticals has a better ROE than the average (23%) in the Pharmaceuticals industry.

roeNasdaqGM:UPC Return on Equity June 23rd 2021

That's what we like to see. With that said, a high ROE doesn't always indicate high profitability. Especially when a firm uses high levels of debt to finance its debt which may boost its ROE but the high leverage puts the company at risk. Our risks dashboardshould have the 3 risks we have identified for Universe Pharmaceuticals.

Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow profits. The cash for investment can come from prior year profits (retained earnings), issuing new shares, or borrowing. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders' equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining Universe Pharmaceuticals' Debt And Its 36% Return On Equity

While Universe Pharmaceuticals does have some debt, with a debt to equity ratio of just 0.13, we wouldn't say debt is excessive. The combination of modest debt and a very impressive ROE does suggest that the business is high quality. Conservative use of debt to boost returns is usually a good move for shareholders, though it does leave the company more exposed to interest rate rises.

Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. You can see how the company has grow in the past by looking at this FREE detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

If you would prefer check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.

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 (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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