Taking A Look At CONMED Corporation's (NYSE:CNMD) ROE

CONMED Corporation +1.68% Post
 CONMED Corporation CNMD 67.15 67.15 +1.68% 0.00% Post

One of the best investments we can make is in our own knowledge and skill set. With that in mind, this article will work through how we can use Return On Equity (ROE) to better understand a business. By way of learning-by-doing, we'll look at ROE to gain a better understanding of CONMED Corporation (NYSE:CNMD).

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.

## 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 CONMED is:

9.6% = US\$82m ÷ US\$855m (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2024).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. One way to conceptualize this is that for each \$1 of shareholders' capital it has, the company made \$0.10 in profit.

## Does CONMED Have A Good Return On Equity?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see CONMED has a similar ROE to the average in the Medical Equipment industry classification (10%).

So while the ROE is not exceptional, at least its acceptable. While at least the ROE is not lower than the industry, its still worth checking what role the company's debt plays as high debt levels relative to equity may also make the ROE appear high. If a company takes on too much debt, it is at higher risk of defaulting on interest payments.

## Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from retained earnings, issuing new shares (equity), or debt. In the first two cases, the ROE will capture this use of capital to grow. In the latter case, the debt used for growth will improve returns, but won't affect the total equity. Thus the use of debt can improve ROE, albeit along with extra risk in the case of stormy weather, metaphorically speaking.

## Combining CONMED's Debt And Its 9.6% Return On Equity

It's worth noting the high use of debt by CONMED, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.16. The combination of a rather low ROE and significant use of debt is not particularly appealing. Investors should think carefully about how a company might perform if it was unable to borrow so easily, because credit markets do change over time.

## Conclusion

Return on equity is useful for comparing the quality of different businesses. A company that can achieve a high return on equity without debt could be considered a high quality business. All else being equal, a higher ROE is better.

But ROE is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, since high quality businesses often trade on high multiples of earnings. 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: CONMED 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.