QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) Has Fared Decently But Fundamentals Look Uncertain: What Lies Ahead For The Stock?

·4 min read

Most readers would already know that QBE Insurance Group's (ASX:QBE) stock increased by 8.0% over the past three months. However, we decided to study the company's mixed-bag of fundamentals to assess what this could mean for future share prices, as stock prices tend to be aligned with a company's long-term financial performance. Particularly, we will be paying attention to QBE Insurance Group's ROE today.

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 short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

View our latest analysis for QBE Insurance Group

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 QBE Insurance Group is:

8.5% = US$757m ÷ US$8.9b (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

The 'return' is the profit over the last twelve months. So, this means that for every A$1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of A$0.09.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

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

QBE Insurance Group's Earnings Growth And 8.5% ROE

At first glance, QBE Insurance Group's ROE doesn't look very promising. However, given that the company's ROE is similar to the average industry ROE of 9.9%, we may spare it some thought. But then again, QBE Insurance Group's five year net income shrunk at a rate of 14%. Remember, the company's ROE is a bit low to begin with. Therefore, the decline in earnings could also be the result of this.

However, when we compared QBE Insurance Group's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 6.9% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

past-earnings-growth
past-earnings-growth

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company's expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. Is QBE Insurance Group fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is QBE Insurance Group Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Despite having a normal three-year median payout ratio of 46% (where it is retaining 54% of its profits), QBE Insurance Group has seen a decline in earnings as we saw above. So there could be some other explanations in that regard. For instance, the company's business may be deteriorating.

In addition, QBE Insurance 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. Looking at the current analyst consensus data, we can see that the company's future payout ratio is expected to rise to 59% over the next three years. Still, forecasts suggest that QBE Insurance Group's future ROE will rise to 15% even though the the company's payout ratio is expected to rise. We presume that there could some other characteristics of the business that could be driving the anticipated growth in the company's ROE.

Conclusion

On the whole, we feel that the performance shown by QBE Insurance 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. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company's fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst's forecasts page 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.

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