ALLETE, Inc.'s (NYSE:ALE) Stock Has Shown Weakness Lately But Financial Prospects Look Decent: Is The Market Wrong?

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ALLETE (NYSE:ALE) has had a rough three months with its share price down 12%. However, the company’s fundamentals look pretty decent, and long-term financials are usually aligned with future market price movements. In this article, we decided to focus on ALLETE’s ROE.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company’s management is utilizing the company’s capital. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder’s equity.

View our latest analysis for ALLETE

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 ALLETE is:

6.7% = US$162m ÷ US$2.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

The ‘return’ is the yearly profit. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder’s investments, the company generates a profit of $0.07.

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 all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don’t have the same features.

ALLETE’s Earnings Growth And 6.7% ROE

On the face of it, ALLETE’s ROE is not much to talk about. Next, when compared to the average industry ROE of 9.3%, the company’s ROE leaves us feeling even less enthusiastic. However, the moderate 6.0% net income growth seen by ALLETE over the past five years is definitely a positive. So, the growth in the company’s earnings could probably have been caused by other variables. 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.

As a next step, we compared ALLETE’s net income growth with the industry and found that the company has a similar growth figure when compared with the industry average growth rate of 6.8% in the same period.

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. 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 ALLETE is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is ALLETE Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

While ALLETE has a three-year median payout ratio of 63% (which means it retains 37% of profits), the company has still seen a fair bit of earnings growth in the past, meaning that its high payout ratio hasn’t hampered its ability to grow.

Besides, ALLETE has been paying dividends for at least ten years or more. This shows that the company is committed to sharing profits with its shareholders. Our latest analyst data shows that the future payout ratio of the company over the next three years is expected to be approximately 66%. Regardless, the future ROE for ALLETE is predicted to rise to 8.3% despite there being not much change expected in its payout ratio.

Conclusion

On the whole, we do feel that ALLETE has some positive attributes. Namely, its high earnings growth. We do however feel that the earnings growth number could have been even higher, had the company been reinvesting more of its earnings and paid out less dividends. That being so, the latest analyst forecasts show that the company will continue to see an expansion in its earnings. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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.

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