Taking A Look At PG&E Corporation's (NYSE:PCG) ROE

PG&E Corporation +0.44%
 PG&E Corporation PCG 18.2 +0.44%

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 PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG).

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. Put another way, it reveals the company's success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

## How Is ROE Calculated?

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 PG&E is:

9.3% = US\$2.4b ÷ US\$26b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2024).

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

## Does PG&E Have A Good ROE?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. However, this method is only useful as a rough check, because companies do differ quite a bit within the same industry classification. If you look at the image below, you can see PG&E has a similar ROE to the average in the Electric Utilities industry classification (8.9%).

So while the ROE is not exceptional, at least its acceptable. 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 true, then it is more an indication of risk than the potential. Our risks dashboardshould have the 3 risks we have identified for PG&E.

## How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Virtually all companies need money to invest in the business, to grow 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.

## PG&E's Debt And Its 9.3% ROE

It's worth noting the high use of debt by PG&E, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 2.20. With a fairly low ROE, and significant use of debt, it's hard to get excited about this business at the moment. Debt does bring extra risk, so it's only really worthwhile when a company generates some decent returns from it.

## Summary

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. Companies that can achieve high returns on equity without too much debt are generally of good quality. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

But when a business is high quality, the market often bids it up to a price that reflects this. The rate at which profits are likely to grow, relative to the expectations of profit growth reflected in the current price, must be considered, too. So you might want to check this FREE visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course PG&E may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.