What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. However, after briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.
What Is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Vulcan Materials:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.074 = US$967m ÷ (US$14b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
Thus, Vulcan Materials has an ROCE of 7.4%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Basic Materials industry average of 9.4%.
In the above chart we have measured Vulcan Materials' prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
In terms of Vulcan Materials' historical ROCE trend, it doesn't exactly demand attention. Over the past five years, ROCE has remained relatively flat at around 7.4% and the business has deployed 47% more capital into its operations. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.
The Bottom Line On Vulcan Materials' ROCE
In conclusion, Vulcan Materials has been investing more capital into the business, but returns on that capital haven't increased. Although the market must be expecting these trends to improve because the stock has gained 48% over the last five years. But if the trajectory of these underlying trends continue, we think the likelihood of it being a multi-bagger from here isn't high.
On a final note, we've found 3 warning signs for Vulcan Materials that we think 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.
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