What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing amount of capital employed. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. However, after briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think Northwest Natural Holding (NYSE:NWN) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Northwest Natural Holding, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.042 = US$149m ÷ (US$4.1b - US$539m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
Thus, Northwest Natural Holding has an ROCE of 4.2%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Gas Utilities industry average of 5.4%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Northwest Natural Holding compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
The Trend Of ROCE
On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Northwest Natural Holding doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 5.2% over the last five years. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.
What We Can Learn From Northwest Natural Holding's ROCE
In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Northwest Natural Holding is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. And there could be an opportunity here if other metrics look good too, because the stock has declined 12% in the last five years. As a result, we'd recommend researching this stock further to uncover what other fundamentals of the business can show us.
On a final note, we found 4 warning signs for Northwest Natural Holding (1 is a bit concerning) you should be aware of.
If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive returns on equity.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.