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Most readers would already know that Fiserv’s (NASDAQ:FISV) stock increased by 4.4% over the past month. However, the company’s financials look a bit inconsistent and market outcomes are ultimately driven by long-term fundamentals, meaning that the stock could head in either direction. Particularly, we will be paying attention to Fiserv’s ROE today.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company’s success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for Fiserv

How Is ROE Calculated?

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 Fiserv is:

4.2% = US$1.4b ÷ US$33b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

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 $0.04 in profit.

What Has ROE Got To Do With Earnings Growth?

We have already established that ROE serves as an efficient profit-generating gauge for a company’s future earnings. 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. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

Fiserv’s Earnings Growth And 4.2% ROE

When you first look at it, Fiserv’s ROE doesn’t look that attractive. We then compared the company’s ROE to the broader industry and were disappointed to see that the ROE is lower than the industry average of 17%. Therefore, Fiserv’s flat earnings over the past five years can possibly be explained by the low ROE amongst other factors.

As a next step, we compared Fiserv’s net income growth with the industry and discovered that the industry saw an average growth of 16% in the same period.

past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company’s expected earnings growth (or decline). By doing so, they will have an idea if the stock is headed into clear blue waters or if swampy waters await. Is FISV fairly valued? This infographic on the company’s intrinsic value has everything you need to know.

Is Fiserv Using Its Retained Earnings Effectively?

Fiserv doesn’t pay any dividend, which means that it is retaining all of its earnings. This makes us question why the company is retaining so much of its profits and still generating almost no growth? So there might be other factors at play here which could potentially be hampering growth. For example, the business has faced some headwinds.

Conclusion

Overall, we have mixed feelings about Fiserv. Even though it appears to be retaining most of its profits, given the low ROE, investors may not be benefitting from all that reinvestment after all. The low earnings growth suggests our theory correct. With that said, we studied the latest analyst forecasts and found that while the company has shrunk its earnings in the past, analysts expect its earnings to grow in the future. To know more about the company’s future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.