When researching a stock for investment, what can tell us that the company is in decline? Typically, we'll see the trend of both return on capital employed (ROCE) declining and this usually coincides with a decreasing amount of capital employed. Ultimately this means that the company is earning less per dollar invested and on top of that, it's shrinking its base of capital employed. So after glancing at the trends within Alico (NASDAQ:ALCO), we weren't too hopeful.
Understanding 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. The formula for this calculation on Alico is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.011 = US$4.6m ÷ (US$453m - US$25m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).
Therefore, Alico has an ROCE of 1.1%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Food industry average of 9.3%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Alico compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Alico.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
In terms of Alico's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 4.4%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. This combination can be indicative of a mature business that still has areas to deploy capital, but the returns received aren't as high due potentially to new competition or smaller margins. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Alico to turn into a multi-bagger.
The Key Takeaway
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. Despite the concerning underlying trends, the stock has actually gained 29% over the last five years, so it might be that the investors are expecting the trends to reverse. Regardless, we don't like the trends as they are and if they persist, we think you might find better investments elsewhere.
Since virtually every company faces some risks, it's worth knowing what they are, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Alico (of which 2 are a bit unpleasant!) that you should know about.
While Alico isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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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.