Constellation Software Inc. (TSE:CSU) Delivered A Better ROE Than Its Industry

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. To keep the lesson grounded in practicality, we’ll use ROE to better understand Constellation Software Inc. (TSE:CSU).

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In simpler terms, it measures the profitability of a company in relation to shareholder’s equity.

Check out our latest analysis for Constellation Software

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 Constellation Software is:

31% = US$532m ÷ US$1.7b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

The ‘return’ is the income the business earned over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every CA$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn CA$0.31 in profit.

Does Constellation Software Have A Good ROE?

One simple way to determine whether a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As is clear from the image below, Constellation Software has a better ROE than the average (9.4%) in the Software industry.

TSX:CSU Return on Equity January 18th 2023

That’s clearly a positive. With that said, a high ROE doesn’t always indicate high profitability. A higher proportion of debt in a company’s capital structure may also result in a high ROE, where the high debt levels could be a huge risk. You can see the 2 risks we have identified for Constellation Software by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

The Importance Of Debt To Return On Equity

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 and second cases, the ROE will reflect this use of cash for investment in the business. In the latter case, the debt required for growth will boost returns, but will not impact the shareholders’ equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

Constellation Software’s Debt And Its 31% ROE

Constellation Software clearly uses a high amount of debt to boost returns, as it has a debt to equity ratio of 1.07. Its ROE is pretty impressive but, it would have probably been lower without the use of debt. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. In our books, the highest quality companies have high return on equity, despite low debt. If two companies have around the same level of debt to equity, and one has a higher ROE, I’d generally prefer the one with higher ROE.

Having said that, while ROE is a useful indicator of business quality, you’ll have to look at a whole range of factors to determine the right price to buy a stock. It is important to consider other factors, such as future profit growth — and how much investment is required going forward. So I think it may be worth checking this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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

Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.

Find out whether Constellation Software is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

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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.

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