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Great-West Lifeco Inc. (TSE:GWO) Is Up But Financials Look Inconsistent: Which Way Is The Stock Headed?

Most readers would already know that Great-West Lifeco's (TSE:GWO) stock increased by 4.5% 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 Great-West Lifeco's ROE today.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Great-West Lifeco

How Is ROE Calculated?

The formula for ROE is:

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Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Great-West Lifeco is:

9.5% = CA$2.7b ÷ CA$29b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2023).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every CA$1 worth of shareholders' equity, the company generated CA$0.09 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. 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.

Great-West Lifeco's Earnings Growth And 9.5% ROE

At first glance, Great-West Lifeco's ROE doesn't look very promising. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 14%, the company's ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. Great-West Lifeco was still able to see a decent net income growth of 6.7% over the past five years. So, the growth in the company's earnings could probably have been caused by other variables. Such as - high earnings retention or an efficient management in place.

We then compared Great-West Lifeco's net income growth with the industry and found that the company's growth figure is lower than the average industry growth rate of 15% in the same period, which is a bit concerning.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. 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. What is GWO worth today? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether GWO is currently mispriced by the market.

Is Great-West Lifeco Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

The high three-year median payout ratio of 54% (or a retention ratio of 46%) for Great-West Lifeco suggests that the company's growth wasn't really hampered despite it returning most of its income to its shareholders.

Besides, Great-West Lifeco has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company is expected to keep paying out approximately 51% of its profits over the next three years. However, Great-West Lifeco's ROE is predicted to rise to 12% despite there being no anticipated change in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about Great-West Lifeco's performance. While no doubt its earnings growth is pretty respectable, the low profit retention could mean that the company's earnings growth could have been higher, had it been paying reinvesting a higher portion of its profits. An improvement in its ROE could also help future earnings growth. On studying current analyst estimates, we found that analysts expect the company to continue its recent growth streak. 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.

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