Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ: EXPE) generated a below average return on equity of 6.4% over the past twelve months, while the Consumer Discretionary sector returned 8.8%. Even though Expedia’s performance is subpar relative to its peers, it’s useful to understand what’s really driving the company’s low ROE and how it’s trending. Understanding these components may change your views on Expedia and its future prospects.
Expedia’s Return On Equity
Return on equity represents the percentage return a company generates on the money shareholders have invested. Return on equity or ROE is defined as follows:
ROE = Net Income To Common / Average Total Common Equity
A higher return on equity suggests management is utilizing the capital invested by shareholders efficiently. However, it is important to note that ROE can be “manufactured” by management with the use of leverage or debt.
Expedia’s historical ROE trends are highlighted in the chart below.
source: finbox.io data explorer – ROE
The return on equity of Expedia has generally been declining over the last few years. ROE decreased from 31.7% to 5.3% in fiscal year 2016, increased to 6.4% in 2017 and the LTM period is also its latest fiscal year. So what’s causing the general decline?
What’s Driving Expedia’s Declining Return On Equity
The DuPont analysis is simply a separate way to calculate a company’s ROE:
ROE = Net Profit Margin * Asset Turnover * Equity Multiplier
Created by the DuPont Corporation in the 1920s, the analysis is a useful tool that helps determine what’s responsible for changes in a company’s ROE. It highlights that a firm’s ROE is affected by three things: profit margin, asset turnover, and its equity multiplier or financial leverage.
Analyzing changes in these three items over time allows investors to figure out if operating efficiency, asset use efficiency or the use of leverage is what’s causing changes in ROE. Strong companies should have ROE that is increasing because its net profit margin and/or asset turnover is increasing. On the other hand, a company may not be as strong as investors would otherwise think if ROE is increasing from the use of leverage or debt.
So let’s take a closer look at what’s driving Expedia’s returns.
Expedia’s Net Profit Margin
The net profit margin of Expedia has generally been declining over the last few years. Margins decreased from 16.2% to 3.2% in fiscal year 2016, increased to 3.8% in 2017 and the LTM period is also its latest fiscal year.
Therefore, the company’s decreasing margins help explain, at least partially, why ROE is also decreasing. Now let’s take a look at Expedia’s efficiency performance.
Expedia’s Asset Turnover
A promising sign for shareholders, Expedia’s asset turnover has actually increased each year since 2015. Turnover increased from 0.54x to 0.56x in fiscal year 2016 and increased again to 0.59x in 2017.
source: data explorer – asset turnover
Therefore, the company’s ROE decline is not as a result of its asset turnover performance which has been steadily increasing.
Finally, the DuPont constituents that make up Expedia’s ROE are shown in the table below. Note that the table also compares Expedia to a peer group that includes Ctrip.com International, Ltd. (NASDAQ: CTRP), Liberty Expedia Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LEXEA), Liberty Expedia Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LEXEB) and Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LTRPA).
source: finbox.io’s DuPont model
In conclusion, the DuPont analysis has helped us better understand that Expedia’s general decline in return on equity is the result of a worsening net profit margin, an improving asset turnover ratio and declining leverage. Therefore when looking at the core operations of the business, Expedia shareholders don’t necessarily need to panic just yet due to the company’s steady improvement in operational efficiency.
The DuPont approach is a helpful tool when analyzing how well management is utilizing shareholder capital. However, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. For example, how do the company’s ROE trends compare to its peers or sector? How about in absolute returns? I recommend that investors continue to research Expedia to gain a better understanding of its fundamentals before making an investment decision.
Author: Brian Dentino
Expertise: financial technology, analyzing market trends
Brian is a founder at finbox.io, where he’s focused on building tools that make it faster and easier for investors to research stock fundamentals. Brian’s background is in physics & computer science and previously worked as a software engineer at GE Healthcare. He enjoys applying his expertise in technology to help find market trends that impact investors.
Brian can be reached at email@example.com.
As of this writing, Brian did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities and this is not a buy or sell recommendation on any security mentioned.