If we want to find a stock that could multiply over the long term, what are the underlying trends we should look for? Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base 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 Mercury Systems (NASDAQ:MRCY) 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)?
Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. To calculate this metric for Mercury Systems, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.022 = US$48m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$201m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).
So, Mercury Systems has an ROCE of 2.2%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Aerospace & Defense industry average of 9.4%.
In the above chart we have measured Mercury Systems' 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.
So How Is Mercury Systems' ROCE Trending?
In terms of Mercury Systems' historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 2.2% from 6.7% five years ago. Meanwhile, the business is utilizing more capital but this hasn't moved the needle much in terms of sales in the past 12 months, so this could reflect longer term investments. It may take some time before the company starts to see any change in earnings from these investments.
Our Take On Mercury Systems' ROCE
To conclude, we've found that Mercury Systems is reinvesting in the business, but returns have been falling. And with the stock having returned a mere 18% in the last five years to shareholders, you could argue that they're aware of these lackluster trends. So if you're looking for a multi-bagger, the underlying trends indicate you may have better chances elsewhere.
If you want to continue researching Mercury Systems, you might be interested to know about the 1 warning sign that our analysis has discovered.
While Mercury Systems may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.
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.
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