Kraft Heinz Co (Nasdaq: KHC) beat the Consumer Staples sector by 6.4% as it relates to ROE, producing a healthy 17.8% compared to the sector’s 11.3%. But what is more interesting is whether Kraft will continue to achieve above average returns moving forward. The DuPont analysis is a useful tool that may help us determine this. In my analysis below, I’ll use the DuPont model to reveal what’s really driving the company’s healthy ROE.

Kraft’s ROE Trends

Return on equity or ROE represents the percentage return a company generates on the money shareholders have invested.

ROE = Net Income To Common / Average Total Common Equity

In general, 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 impacted by management’s financing decisions such as the deployment of leverage.

Kraft’s recent ROE trends are illustrated in the chart below.

source: data explorer – ROE

It appears that the data explorer – ROE of Kraft has generally been increasing over the last few years. ROE increased from -0.8% to 6.0% in fiscal year 2016 and increased to 17.8% in 2017. So what’s causing the general improvement?

What’s Causing Kraft’s Improving Return On Equity

A less used approach although being much more intuitive, the DuPont formula is another way to calculate a company’s ROE. It is defined as:

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.

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