Did ONE Gas, Inc. (NYSE:OGS) Use Debt To Deliver Its ROE Of 8.1%?

ONE Gas, Inc. +2.11% Post
 ONE Gas, Inc. OGS 72.66 72.66 +2.11% 0.00% Post

Many investors are still learning about the various metrics that can be useful when analysing a stock. This article is for those who would like to learn about Return On Equity (ROE). We'll use ROE to examine ONE Gas, Inc. (NYSE:OGS), by way of a worked example.

Return on equity or ROE is a key measure used to assess how efficiently a company's management is utilizing the company's capital. Simply put, it is used to assess the profitability of a company in relation to its equity capital.

## How Do You 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 ONE Gas is:

8.1% = US\$228m ÷ US\$2.8b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2024).

The 'return' refers to a company's earnings over the last year. One way to conceptualize this is that for each \$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made \$0.08 in profit.

## Does ONE Gas Have A Good Return On Equity?

One simple way to determine if a company has a good return on equity is to compare it to the average for its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. The image below shows that ONE Gas has an ROE that is roughly in line with the Gas Utilities industry average (10.0%).

That's neither particularly good, nor bad. Even if the ROE is respectable when compared to the industry, its worth checking if the firm's ROE is being aided by high debt levels. If so, this increases its exposure to financial risk. To know the 3 risks we have identified for ONE Gas visit our risks dashboard for free.

## How Does Debt Impact Return On Equity?

Most companies need money -- from somewhere -- to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. 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. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

## Combining ONE Gas' Debt And Its 8.1% Return On Equity

It's worth noting the high use of debt by ONE Gas, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.11. Its ROE is quite low, even with the use of significant debt; that's not a good result, in our opinion. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

## Summary

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. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

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 you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

But note: ONE Gas may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE and low debt.