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# British American Tobacco's ROE Is Really Attractive

In this article, let´s see one of the most important financial ratios applying to stockholders, the best measure of performance for a firm's management, the Return on Equity (ROE), and we are going to analyze it in the case of British American Tobacco plc (NYSE:BTI).

ROE is calculated as net income applicable to common shares divided by the average book value of common equity: ROE = Net Income / Av. Book Value

A higher ROE is viewed as a positive aspect for the company, but the reason behind it should be examined. From the equation above, we can see that if book value is decreasing more rapidly than net income, the ratio will increase, but this is not good for the firm.

Dupont analysis

This approach can be used to analyze the ROE. With some algebra we can break down ROE into a function of different ratios. First, we are going to consider the original approach:

Original Dupont equation: Three-part Dupont

Taking the ROE equation: ROE = net income / shareholder's equity and multiplying ROE by (revenue / revenue) and rearranging terms we get:

ROE = (net income / revenue) * (revenue / shareholder's equity)

We now have ROE broken into two parts, the first is net profit margin, the second is the equity turnover ratio. Now we can expand this by multiplying these terms by (assets / assets), and rearranging we end up with the three-step DuPont equation.

ROE = (Net Income / Revenue) * (Revenue / Assets) * (Assets / Shareholder's Equity)

This equation for ROE breaks it into three widely used and studied components:

ROE = (Net profit margin)* (Asset Turnover) * (Leverage ratio)

The first term is what we called previously net profit margin, the second term is asset turnover, and the third tem is a financial leverage ratio. If we have a low ROE, one of the following must be true:

• The firm has a poor profit margin
• The firm has a poor asset turnover
• The firm has a little leverage
 ROE (%) 3-Step Dec-04 Dec-05 Dec-06 Dec-07 Dec-08 Dec-09 Dec-10 Dec-11 Dec-12 Dec-13 Net Profit Margin 26.25 18.95 19.42 21.26 20.27 19.09 19.34 20.10 25.29 25.58 Asset Turnover 0.61 0.49 0.55 0.53 0.44 0.53 0.53 0.57 0.56 0.57 Leverage 2.94 2.78 2.63 2.63 3.85 3.33 2.94 3.23 3.45 3.85 ROE 46.22 25.69 28.35 30.05 34.05 34.29 30.15 36.52 49.38 56.29

Final comment

As outlined in the article, a key ratio used to determine management efficiency is the ROE. In general, analysts consider ROE ratios in the 15-20% range as representing attractive levels for investment. As we can appreciate, the ROE was higher in each of the ten years, principally due to its great net profit margin.

It is very important to understand this metric before investing, and it is important to look at the trend in ROE over time. So let´s see the evolution on the next chart:

Based on this analysis, I would recommend that investors consider adding this stock to their long-term portfolios.

Hedge fund gurus have also been active in the company. Gurus like Joel Greenblatt (Trades, Portfolio), Jim Simons (Trades, Portfolio), Jeremy Grantham (Trades, Portfolio), Sarah Ketterer (Trades, Portfolio) and Tom Russo (Trades, Portfolio) have taken long positions in the second quarter of 2014.

Disclosure: Omar Venerio holds no position in any stocks mentioned.

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Omar Venerio is capital markets, derivatives, corporate finance and financial management professor. He is passionate about the stock market and providing independent fundamental research and hedge fund and insider trading-focused investigation.

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