Does The Market Have A Low Tolerance For International Paper Company’s (NYSE:IP) Mixed Fundamentals?

International Paper (NYSE:IP) has had a rough month with its share price down 6.1%. It seems that the market might have completely ignored the positive aspects of the company’s fundamentals and decided to weigh-in more on the negative aspects. Long-term fundamentals are usually what drive market outcomes, so it’s worth paying close attention. Specifically, we decided to study International Paper’s ROE in this article.

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.

Check out our latest analysis for International Paper

How To Calculate Return On Equity?

Return on equity 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 International Paper is:

14% = US$1.1b ÷ US$8.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

The ‘return’ refers to a company’s earnings over the last year. Another way to think of that is that for every $1 worth of equity, the company was able to earn $0.14 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

So far, we’ve learned that ROE is a measure of a company’s profitability. Based on how much of its profits the company chooses to reinvest or “retain”, we are then able to evaluate a company’s future ability to generate profits. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don’t have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of International Paper’s Earnings Growth And 14% ROE

To start with, International Paper’s ROE looks acceptable. Yet, the fact that the company’s ROE is lower than the industry average of 18% does temper our expectations. Needless to say, the 3.9% net income shrink rate seen by International Paperover the past five years is a huge dampener. Not to forget, the company does have a high ROE to begin with, just that it is lower than the industry average. Therefore, the shrinking earnings could be the result of other factors. These include low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

So, as a next step, we compared International Paper’s performance against the industry and were disappointed to discover that while the company has been shrinking its earnings, the industry has been growing its earnings at a rate of 13% in the same period.

NYSE:IP Past Earnings Growth July 31st 2021

Earnings growth is an important metric to consider when valuing a stock. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company’s expected earnings growth (or decline). Doing so will help them establish if the stock’s future looks promising or ominous. Is International Paper fairly valued compared to other companies? These 3 valuation measures might help you decide.

Is International Paper Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

International Paper has a high three-year median payout ratio of 65% (that is, it is retaining 35% of its profits). This suggests that the company is paying most of its profits as dividends to its shareholders. This goes some way in explaining why its earnings have been shrinking. With only very little left to reinvest into the business, growth in earnings is far from likely. To know the 3 risks we have identified for International Paper visit our risks dashboard for free.

In addition, International Paper has been paying dividends over a period of at least ten years suggesting that keeping up dividend payments is way more important to the management even if it comes at the cost of business growth. Upon studying the latest analysts’ consensus data, we found that the company’s future payout ratio is expected to drop to 44% over the next three years. Accordingly, the expected drop in the payout ratio explains the expected increase in the company’s ROE to 22%, over the same period.

Conclusion

Overall, we have mixed feelings about International Paper. On the one hand, the company does have a decent rate of return, however, its earnings growth number is quite disappointing and as discussed earlier, the low retained earnings is hampering the growth. That being so, the latest industry analyst forecasts show that analysts are forecasting a slight improvement in the company’s future earnings growth. This could offer some relief to the company’s existing shareholders. Are these analysts expectations based on the broad expectations for the industry, or on the company’s fundamentals? Click here to be taken to our analyst’s forecasts page for the company.

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