If you're looking for a multi-bagger, there's a few things to keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. So when we looked at the ROCE trend of Lowe's Companies (NYSE:LOW) we really liked what we saw.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
For those who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Lowe's Companies:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.43 = US$12b ÷ (US$51b - US$23b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2021).
So, Lowe's Companies has an ROCE of 43%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 15% earned by companies in a similar industry.NYSE:LOW Return on Capital Employed June 24th 2021
In the above chart we have measured Lowe's Companies' prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Lowe's Companies here for free.
How Are Returns Trending?
The trends we've noticed at Lowe's Companies are quite reassuring. The data shows that returns on capital have increased substantially over the last five years to 43%. Basically the business is earning more per dollar of capital invested and in addition to that, 23% more capital is being employed now too. The increasing returns on a growing amount of capital is common amongst multi-baggers and that's why we're impressed.
Another thing to note, Lowe's Companies has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 45%. This can bring about some risks because the company is basically operating with a rather large reliance on its suppliers or other sorts of short-term creditors. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up, Lowe's Companies has proven it can reinvest in the business and generate higher returns on that capital employed, which is terrific. Since the stock has returned a staggering 169% to shareholders over the last five years, it looks like investors are recognizing these changes. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.
One more thing to note, we've identified 2 warning signs with Lowe's Companies and understanding them should be part of your investment process.
High returns are a key ingredient to strong performance, so check out our free list ofstocks earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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