A Closer Look At The Wendy's Company's (NASDAQ:WEN) Impressive ROE

Wendy's Company -0.53%

Wendy's Company

WEN

18.60

-0.53%

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 The Wendy's Company (NASDAQ:WEN).

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

Check out our latest analysis for Wendy's

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

The formula for ROE is:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for Wendy's is:

58% = US$199m ÷ US$343m (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2023).

The 'return' is the amount earned after tax over the last twelve months. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.58 in profit.

Does Wendy's Have A Good ROE?

Arguably the easiest way to assess company's ROE is to compare it with the average in its industry. The limitation of this approach is that some companies are quite different from others, even within the same industry classification. As you can see in the graphic below, Wendy's has a higher ROE than the average (16%) in the Hospitality industry.

roe
NasdaqGS:WEN Return on Equity December 30th 2023

That's clearly a positive. Bear in mind, a high ROE doesn't always mean superior financial performance. 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 . Our risks dashboardshould have the 3 risks we have identified for Wendy's.

How Does Debt Impact ROE?

Companies usually need to invest money to grow their profits. That cash can come from issuing shares, retained earnings, or debt. In the case of the first and second options, the ROE will reflect this use of cash, for growth. In the latter case, the use of debt will improve the returns, but will not change the equity. In this manner the use of debt will boost ROE, even though the core economics of the business stay the same.

Combining Wendy's' Debt And Its 58% Return On Equity

We think Wendy's uses a significant amount of debt to maximize its returns, as it has a significantly higher debt to equity ratio of 8.17. While its ROE is no doubt quite impressive, it could give a false impression about the company's returns given that its huge debt could be boosting those returns.

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. If two companies have the same ROE, then I would generally prefer the one with less debt.

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. Profit growth rates, versus the expectations reflected in the price of the stock, are a particularly important to consider. So you might want to take a peek at this data-rich interactive graph of forecasts for the company.

Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.

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