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Is TransAlta Renewables Inc.'s (TSE:RNW) Recent Performancer Underpinned By Weak Financials?

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With its stock down 9.3% over the past month, it is easy to disregard TransAlta Renewables (TSE:RNW). Given that stock prices are usually driven by a company’s fundamentals over the long term, which in this case look pretty weak, we decided to study the company's key financial indicators. Specifically, we decided to study TransAlta Renewables' ROE in this article.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for TransAlta Renewables

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE 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 TransAlta Renewables is:

6.4% = CA$127m ÷ CA$2.0b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each CA$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made CA$0.06 in profit.

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 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.

TransAlta Renewables' Earnings Growth And 6.4% ROE

When you first look at it, TransAlta Renewables' ROE doesn't look that attractive. However, given that the company's ROE is similar to the average industry ROE of 6.4%, we may spare it some thought. Even so, TransAlta Renewables has shown a fairly decent growth in its net income which grew at a rate of 11%. Taking into consideration that the ROE is not particularly high, we reckon that there could also be other factors at play which could be influencing the company's growth. For example, it is possible that the company's management has made some good strategic decisions, or that the company has a low payout ratio.

Next, on comparing with the industry net income growth, we found that TransAlta Renewables' reported growth was lower than the industry growth of 30% in the same period, which is not something we like to see.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. This then helps them determine if the stock is placed for a bright or bleak future. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if TransAlta Renewables is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is TransAlta Renewables Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

TransAlta Renewables' high three-year median payout ratio of 179% suggests that the company is paying out more to its shareholders than what it is making. Still the company's earnings have grown respectably. Although, the high payout ratio is certainly something we would keep an eye on if the company is not able to keep up its growth, or if business deteriorates.

Additionally, TransAlta Renewables has paid dividends over a period of nine years which means that the company is pretty serious about sharing its profits with shareholders. Upon studying the latest analysts' consensus data, we found that the company's future payout ratio is expected to drop to 136% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company's ROE to 12%, over the same period.

Summary

On the whole, TransAlta Renewables' performance is quite a big let-down. Although the company has shown a fair bit of growth in earnings, yet the low ROE and the low rate of reinvestment makes us skeptical about the continuity of that growth, especially when or if the business comes to face any threats. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company's earnings are expected to accelerate. 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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