Should You Be Worried About ONEOK, Inc.'s (NYSE:OKE) 15% Return On Equity?

ONEOK, Inc. 0.00% Pre
 ONEOK, Inc. OKE 80.85 80.85 0.00% 0.00% Pre

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. We'll use ROE to examine ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE:OKE), by way of a worked example.

ROE or return on equity is a useful tool to assess how effectively a company can generate returns on the investment it received from its shareholders. In short, ROE shows the profit each dollar generates with respect to its shareholder investments.

Check out our latest analysis for ONEOK

## How Do You 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 ONEOK is:

15% = US\$2.5b ÷ US\$16b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2023).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every \$1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn \$0.15 in profit.

## Does ONEOK Have A Good Return On Equity?

By comparing a company's ROE with its industry average, we can get a quick measure of how good it is. Importantly, this is far from a perfect measure, because companies differ significantly within the same industry classification. As shown in the graphic below, ONEOK has a lower ROE than the average (23%) in the Oil and Gas industry classification.

That certainly isn't ideal. Although, we think that a lower ROE could still mean that a company has the opportunity to better its returns with the use of leverage, provided its existing debt levels are low. A company with high debt levels and low ROE is a combination we like to avoid given the risk involved. You can see the 3 risks we have identified for ONEOK by visiting our risks dashboard for free on our platform here.

## Why You Should Consider Debt When Looking At ROE

Companies usually need to invest money 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 used for growth will improve returns, but won't affect the total equity. That will make the ROE look better than if no debt was used.

## ONEOK's Debt And Its 15% ROE

It's worth noting the high use of debt by ONEOK, leading to its debt to equity ratio of 1.35. While its ROE is pretty respectable, the amount of debt the company is carrying currently is not ideal. Debt increases risk and reduces options for the company in the future, so you generally want to see some good returns from using it.

## Conclusion

Return on equity is a useful indicator of the ability of a business to generate profits and return them to shareholders. 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. 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 ONEOK 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.