4 Reasons ROE Is Not A Useful Metric For Investors

4 Reasons ROE Is Not A Useful Metric For Investors…more attention to return on invested capital (ROIC)

MALTAway is protection and care of your Investments

Recently, we ran through the various flaws in the price to earnings ratio and explained why investors need to be paying more attention to return on invested capital (ROIC). This week, we’re tackling another of the market’s favorite metrics, return on equity (ROE).

Return on equity has a very simple formula:

It’s tempting to think of ROE as just an easier-to-calculate version of ROIC. All you need to do is just find the Net Income line on the Income Statement and divide it by the Shareholder’s Equity line on the Balance Sheet. Unfortunately for investors, a metric that’s so easy to calculate is rarely going to be useful in terms of explaining valuation, as Figure 1 proves.

Figure 1: ROE Has Almost No Impact On Valuation

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings.

Figure 1 shows the relationship (or lack thereof), between ROE and enterprise value/invested capital, which is a cleaner version of price to book. Less than 1% of the difference in valuation between S&P 500 companies can be explained through ROE. A similarly nonexistent relationship shows up when we plot ROE against the P/E ratio.

Figure 2: ROE Doesn’t Impact P/E Either

This evidence is clear. No meaningful relationship exists between ROE and P/E or enterprise value/invested capital[1]. It has an appealing simplicity, but ROE has several fatal flaws that keep it from being a useful metric.

Flaw #1: It’s Based On Accounting Earnings

I’m not going to belabor this point because it’s one we’ve made time and time again. Reported net income is not a useful metric for equity investors. GAAP rules were designed for debt investors, and GAAP net income has a number of issues that make it especially poor at measuring profitability.

  • It contains many accounting loopholes that can distort reported earnings.
  • There’s almost no enforcement in place to keep executives from manipulating earnings.
  • Changing accounting rules and differing interpretations mean net income is not necessarily comparable over time or between different companies.
  • Financing costs such as interest can impact reported earnings, obscuring the actual operating performance.

ROIC fixes these issues by using net operating profit after tax (NOPAT) as the numerator. Unlike GAAP net income, NOPAT excludes financing costs, uses consistent rules across all companies and timeframes, and adjusts out the impact of unusual items and changing management assumptions.

Flaw #2: It Ignores Off-Balance Sheet Items

Companies have all sorts of tools they can use in order to hide assets off the balance sheet. One of those tricks, using operating leases as off-balance sheet debt, is going to get taken away in 2018. Still, there are other hidden off-balance sheet items, such as reservesdeferred compensation, andasset write-downs.

These all represent committed uses of capital for which the company is not being held accountable. This is an area where we really see how accounting rules are geared towards the needs of debt investors rather than equity investors. Writing-down assets helps debt investors by giving a clearer picture of the liquidation value of a company, but it hurts equity investors by obscuring the true amount of capital invested in the business.

We use invested capital for the denominator in our ROIC calculation because it factors in these hidden items so that the company is being held accountable for all of its uses of capital.

Flaw #3: ROE Can Be Influenced Through Leverage

A true measure of profitability should be focused on the operating side of the equation, without allowing financing decisions to have a big impact. By only using shareholder’s equity as the denominator, ROE becomes extremely susceptible to financing decisions, as a company can significantly boost ROE by taking on more leverage and increasing its risk.

The opposite also holds true. A company holding a great deal of excess cash will be penalized with a lower ROE, even though it may be making the responsible decision to hold that cash until a more opportune time arises to invest it at a higher return or to return that cash to shareholders more efficiently.

As an example, let’s look at Nordstrom (JWN) and Apple (AAPL). According to ROE, Nordstrom is the more profitable company, with an ROE of 47.9% compared to Apple’s 44.7%. This misleading comparison stems from the fact that Nordstrom’s total debt is equal to 41% of its market cap, whereas Apple has over $130 billion in net cash (20% of market cap).

When we remove the impact of leverage and just look at the operating profitability of these two companies, we can see that Apple has an ROIC that is more than 10 times higher than Nordstrom.

Flaw #4: Executives Have An Interest In Manipulating ROE

ROE is another one of the “advanced” or “non-GAAP” metrics that companies often use to set performance targets that executives need to hit to earn their annual and long-term bonuses. Consequently, executives will be more likely to manipulate accounting earnings, structure transactions to keep them off the balance sheet, and take on more leverage in order to boost ROE.

Because ROE is so easy to manipulate, and because executives potentially have such a strong interest in artificially boosting it, investors can’t know whether that ROE number is reliable or just a result of financial wizardry. One company might have a significantly higher ROE than a competitor simply because it’s more aggressive exploiting accounting loopholes rather than being superior in terms of profitability.

The ease with which ROE can be manipulated, as well as its various structural flaws, explain why it has almost no value in terms of explaining differences in valuation. As we see so often in the market, simplicity is not always a virtue. ROIC might not be as simple to calculate, but it’s a much better indicator of profitability and valuation.

Disclosure: David Trainer and Sam McBride receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, sector, style, or theme.

[1] We explore the often misunderstood relationship between ROE and price-to-book in this report.

https://www.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=5599&vid=8422

 

Benefits of Malta Trust & Foundation

Benefits of Malta Trust & Foundation

 

Wealth Management & Trusts in Malta

Since Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004, Malta has emerged as an attractive jurisdiction for the establishment of international corporate holding structures, to be used in multinational groups, owner-managed companies as well as the holding of assets for High Net Worth Individuals. Worthy of note is the fact that in the last decade Maltese legislature has been very active in the area of fiduciary obligations, specifically those resulting from the creation of trusts and foundations.

Benefits of Trusts in Malta

  • One of the few civil law jurisdictions that has developed its ow domestic trust law
  • Recognitions of trusts set up under foreign laws
  • Offering the set-up of domestic trusts and foundations
  • Legislation published in English
  • High professional standards with many accountants, bankers, lawyers, notaries and investment advisors holding overseas qualifications and having overseas experience
  • Fast-track authorisation for trustees licensed in other (approved) jurisdictions
  • English-speaking country with a pro-business government

Benefits of Wealth Management in Malta

  • EU and eurozone location
  • Multi-disciplined advisors able to adapt to the changing needs of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs)
  • Sound and sophisticated banking system
  • Fast-track authorisation for Professional Investor Funds (PIFs)
  • Flexible investment structures (SICAVs, trusts, partnerships, etc.)
  • A reputable stock exchange
  • One of the only civil law jurisdictions to have successfully developed a trust concept by integrating it with Roman law sources
  • Recognition of foreign trusts
  • Offering the set-up of both trusts and foundations
  • A stable macroeconomic environment

http://www.financemalta.org/sections/malta-trusts-financemalta/financemalta-wealth-management-articles/detail/8-benefits-malta-trusts-foundations

MALTA BANKS & INVESTMENTS

INVESTMENTS in Malta: The Complexity of Simplicity

Corporations, Entrepreneurs, Families, HNWIs, Individuals, with our advice and support, find in Malta a dedicated, professional and safe Banking and Finance system within legal, tax, financial regulations suitable for business environment and wealth & assets protection

These Finance Services’ solutions for Investments in Malta, meet the clients’ needs in a stable, safe and growing economy country, member of Europe and Commonwealth as well

Behind these words , there are three basic concepts :

  • wealth protection
  • asset growth
  • income from capital

From the real estate to the financial market , through sophisticated solutions for Investment Protection & Management , we can guide you on the best way to go

MALTAway allows you to find in Malta a unique investments solution that combines:

  • legal vehicles
  • low cost structure and tax
  • efficient financial instruments
  • professional advice

to protect and growth of your WEALTH and ASSET in a jurisdiction fully compliant with the OECD and Europe regulations, placing itself at the top of global stability and fiscal efficiency

 

Be aware , open a bank account in Malta as NON-RESIDENTS , is a long, demanding and selective process. We can be your Introducer and Sponsor , first checking with you that there are the conditions to proceed without wasting valuable time

Of the 22 banks authorized to conduct business in Malta , three are owned Maltese , 19 are foreign banks .

The banking system consists of the Central Bank of Malta and the ” Malta Financial Services Authority ” ( MFSA ) , an autonomous body established in 2002 legally .

The Maltese Government has launched a legislative reform aimed at transforming the island from offshore center to financial center with a high global standard of banking, financial and insurance services as well.

MALTA BANKS 

WEALTH PROTECTION, BENEFIT TRUST AND FOUNDATION

MALTA TRUST

maltaway_malta_financemalta_FamilyOfficesKeepingitintheFamily

maltaway_financemalta_TrustFoundation2013

Malta Trust

Malta Trust

MALTAWAY offers legal advisory and an open access to a wide set of legal vehicles to protect your wealth and your asset

Means of establishment

A trust may be created unilaterally or bilaterally, by oral declaration or in writing. A unit trust must always be created in writing.

The Settlor

The settlor is the person who sets up the trust. The settlor must be of age, have full capacity to contract and a free disposition of the assets settled on trust. While imposing fiduciary obligations upon the trustee in favour of the beneficiaries, trusts do not leave the settlor with any rights in relation to the trust property – except as specifically provided for in the Trusts and Trustees Act. The Trusts and Trustees Act lists the settlor’s rights (which may be supplemented by the trust deed) as follows:

  • The settlor has the power to seek court directives as to trust validity
  • The settlor has the right to a variation of terms and revocable trusts where the Trust Deed so provides
  • In cases of trust termination, interest lapses or no existing or possible beneficiary, the trustee holds the trust property for the settlor (or his or her heirs)
  • It is the trustee’s duty to provide the settlor with information, subject to the terms of the Trust Deed.

NEW: The settlor may reserve or grant himself:

  • Any beneficial interest in the trust property
  • Any power to appoint, add or remove trustees, protectors or beneficiaries
  • Any power to appoint an investment adviser or investment manager

The Protector

The protector is typically a person who is in a trustworthy position (e.g. the family lawyer). The protector may also act as investment advisor. Subject to the trust terms, the protector typically has the power to:

  • Appoint new and/or additional trustees
  • Remove trustees
  • Require trustees to obtain the protector’s discretion (including approval) in relation to particular matters e.g. purchase /sale of trust property.

The Beneficiary

The beneficiary is the person who may benefit from the assets of the trust. All beneficiaries have to be mentioned by name or are ascertainable by class or by relationship to a person alive or dead. For instance, children not yet born or conceived may be potential beneficiaries. The rights of the beneficiary are personal and are regarded as movable property. Subject to the trust deed, the beneficiary may sell, charge or deal with his or her interest in any manner, provided that this is done in writing.

The beneficiary has the right to information from the trustee and may seek court directives regarding the validity of the trust. The beneficiary may also disclaim his or her interest, or part thereof.

NEW: all the beneficiaries who are in existence and have been ascertained, provided that none of them is interdicted or a minor, may request the trustee to terminate the trust and distribute the trust property. The new amendments preclude this rule from applying in the case of protective trusts.

Trust Deed

The Trust Deed is the instrument whereby the trust is created and includes the terms of the trust and may also be in the form of a unilateral declaration of trust. For example, a Trust Deed may provide for the addition of new beneficiaries (e.g. for unborn children) or the exclusion of a specific benefit to certain beneficiaries under conditions clearly stated in the Trust Deed.

Letter of Wishes

The settlor can guide the trustee in a separate letter of wishes on how the trustee should exercise his discretion. Depending on the relationship between the settlor and the beneficiaries, the settlor can inform the beneficiaries of this letter, however, he/she may also choose not to disclose this letter to the beneficiaries. A letter of wishes is not legally binding on the trustee, but rather constitutes general guidance on a settlor’s wishes.

Legal Form

A trust does not have its own legal personality. Trusts are not registered anywhere and there are no formalities for the annual maintenance of trusts other than statutory obligations that are imposed on trustees in the administration of trusts (for example the duty to prepare accounts).

Set-up time

There are no statutory restrictions that could delay the setting up of a trust in Malta. Therefore, the time required depends on the particular circumstances and mainly relates to the drafting of the Trust Deed.

Termination

The Malta trust has been amended to extend the permitted duration to 125 years (formerly maximum duration was 100 years), however, it can be terminated earlier if all beneficiaries acting in unison demand termination, which the trustees must accept under the conditions outlined in the Trusts and Trustees Act. With most trust deeds it is usual for the trustees also to be able to bring the trust to an end during the trust period.

Ensuring trustees’ performance

Professional trustees are licensed by the MFSA, which has also issued a code of conduct to provide guidance to trustees as to the standards required under the Trusts and Trustees Act and other financial services legislation, as well as to the best practice in the industry. Trustees must exercise their fiduciary duties prudently and competently and, subject to the terms of the trust and the provisions of the Trusts and Trustees Act, consider the rights of all beneficiaries when making decisions affecting the administration of the trust.

If a trustee fails to administer a trust in accordance with the law and the respective trust deed, the trustee is liable for such a breach and can be sued for it.

NEW: the amendments include:

  • trustees have the duty to avoid any conflicts of interests
  • upon accepting appointment, trustees are duty-bound to draw up a written inventory of the trust assets and declare it includes all the trust property of which the trustees are aware
  • trustees are obliged to keep accounts and records of their trusteeship for at least 10 years from the date of termination of the trust/trusteeship

(Excerpt from the FinanceMalta Wealth Management Sector Guide 2015-2016)