With its stock down 6.3% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard AIA Group (HKG:1299). We, however decided to study the company’s financials to determine if they have got anything to do with the price decline. Fundamentals usually dictate market outcomes so it makes sense to study the company’s financials. In this article, we decided to focus on AIA Group’s ROE.
Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.
How Is ROE Calculated?
The formula for ROE is:
Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders’ Equity
So, based on the above formula, the ROE for AIA Group is:
0.8% = US$320m ÷ US$39b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).
The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each HK$1 of shareholders’ capital it has, the company made HK$0.01 in profit.
What Is The Relationship Between ROE And Earnings Growth?
We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company’s future earnings. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or “retain”, we are then able to evaluate a company’s future ability to generate profits. 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.
AIA Group’s Earnings Growth And 0.8% ROE
It is quite clear that AIA Group’s ROE is rather low. Not just that, even compared to the industry average of 6.7%, the company’s ROE is entirely unremarkable. For this reason, AIA Group’s five year net income decline of 6.3% is not surprising given its lower ROE. However, there could also be other factors causing the earnings to decline. For example, the business has allocated capital poorly, or that the company has a very high payout ratio.
Next, when we compared with the industry, which has shrunk its earnings at a rate of 1.4% in the same 5-year period, we still found AIA Group’s performance to be quite bleak, because the company has been shrinking its earnings faster than the industry.
The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. What investors need to determine next is if the expected earnings growth, or the lack of it, is already built into the share price. By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. What is 1299 worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether 1299 is currently mispriced by the market.
Is AIA Group Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?
Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 37% (where it is retaining 63% of its profits), AIA Group 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.
In addition, AIA Group 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 over the next three years is expected to be approximately 35%. However, AIA Group’s ROE is predicted to rise to 17% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.
On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by AIA Group can be open to many interpretations. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. Having said that, looking at current analyst estimates, we found that the company’s earnings growth rate is expected to see a huge improvement. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.
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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.