By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Calculate profit margin to determine how much sales revenues the firm has translated into income.
- Evaluate firm performance by calculating return on total assets and return on equity.
- Analyze organizational performance using DuPont method calculations.
Profitability considers how well a company produces returns given its operational performance. The company needs to use its assets and operations efficiently to increase profit. To assist with profit goal attainment, company revenues need to outweigh expenses. Let’s consider three profitability measurements and ratios: profit margin, return on total assets, and return on equity.
Profit margin represents how much of sales revenue has translated into income. This ratio shows how much of each $1 of sales is returned as profit. The larger the ratio figure (the closer it gets to 1), the more of each sales dollar is returned as profit. The portion of the sales dollar not returned as profit goes toward expenses. The formula for profit margin is
For Clear Lake Sporting Goods, the profit margin in the current year is
This means that for every dollar of sales, $0.29 returns as profit. If Clear Lake Sporting Goods thinks this is too low, the company would try to find ways to reduce expenses and increase sales.
Return on Total Assets
The return on total assets measures the company’s ability to use its assets successfully to generate a profit. The higher the return (ratio outcome), the more profit is created from asset use. Average total assets are found by dividing the sum of beginning and ending total assets balances found on the balance sheet. The beginning total assets balance in the current year is taken from the ending total assets balance in the prior year. The formula for return on total assets is
For Clear Lake Sporting Goods, the return on total assets for the current year is
The higher the figure, the better the company is using its assets to create a profit. Industry standards can dictate what an acceptable return is.
Return on Equity
Return on equity measures the company’s ability to use its invested capital to generate income. The invested capital comes from stockholders’ investments in the company’s stock and its retained earnings and is leveraged to create profit. The higher the return, the better the company is doing at using its investments to yield a profit. The formula for return on equity is
Average stockholders’ equity is found by dividing the sum of beginning and ending stockholders’ equity balances found on the balance sheet. The beginning stockholders’ equity balance in the current year is taken from the ending stockholders’ equity balance in the prior year. Keep in mind that the net income is calculated after preferred dividends have been paid.
For Clear Lake Sporting Goods, we will use the net income figure and deduct the preferred dividends that have been paid. The return on equity for the current year is
The higher the figure, the better the company is using its investments to create a profit. Industry standards can dictate what an acceptable return is.
The DuPont Method
ROE in its basic form is useful; however, there are really three components of ROE: operating efficiency (profit margin), asset usage (total asset turnover), and leverage (equity ratio). This is known as the DuPont method. It originated in 1919 when the DuPont company implemented it for internal measurement purposes.2 The DuPont method can be expressed using this formula:
Profit margin indicates how much profit is generated by each dollar of sales and is computed as shown:
Total asset turnover indicates the number of sales dollars produced by every dollar invested in capital assets—in other words, how efficiently the company is using its capital assets to generate sales. It is computed as shown:
The equity multiplier measures leverage. It is computed as shown:
Using DuPont analysis, investors can see overall performance broken down into smaller pieces, which helps them better understand what is driving ROE. We already have the computations for Clear Lake Sporting Goods’ profit margin and total asset turnover:
We can calculate the equity multiplier using the equity multiplier equation and prior calculations for Clear Lake’s average total assets and average stockholder equity:
Now that we have all three elements, we can complete the DuPont analysis for Clear Lake Sporting Goods:
ROE captures the nuances of all three elements. A good sales margin and a proper asset turnover are both needed for a successful operation. Like all ratios, assessing performance is relative. It’s important to look at the ratio in context of the organization, its history, and the industry. If we compare Clear Lake’s ROE of 26.4% to the recreational products industry average of 12.56% for the same year, it would appear as though Clear Lake Sporting Goods is outperforming the general industry. However, recreational products can include a wide variety of businesses beyond just the outdoor gear in which Clear Lake Sporting Goods specializes. An analyst could look at other key competitors such as Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops to get even more relevant comparisons.
Clear Lake Sporting Goods is also technically a retail store, albeit a specialized one. An analyst might also consider the industry averages for general or online retail of 20.64% and 27.05%, respectively. Compared to the broader retail industry, Clear Lake Sporting Goods is still performing well, but its performance is not as disparate to industry average as when compared to recreational products (see Table 6.1).
|Financial Services (nonbanking)||64.28|
|Hospitals/Health Care Facilities||70.64|
|Real Estate (general)||2.00|
|Rubber and Tires||−26.69|
|Software (systems and applications)||28.09|
|Total Market Average||8.25|
- 2Joshua Kennon. “What Is the DuPont Method Return on Equity, or ROE, Formula?” The Balance. December 16, 2020. https://thebalance.com/the-dupont-model-return-on-equity-formula-for-beginners-357494