What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing amount of capital employed. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. In light of that, when we looked at Bodycote (LON:BOY) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.
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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Bodycote:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.10 = UK£84m ÷ (UK£1.1b - UK£263m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).
Thus, Bodycote has an ROCE of 10%. By itself that's a normal return on capital and it's in line with the industry's average returns of 10%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Bodycote compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Bodycote here for free.
So How Is Bodycote's ROCE Trending?
Things have been pretty stable at Bodycote, with its capital employed and returns on that capital staying somewhat the same for the last five years. It's not uncommon to see this when looking at a mature and stable business that isn't re-investing its earnings because it has likely passed that phase of the business cycle. So unless we see a substantial change at Bodycote in terms of ROCE and additional investments being made, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger. This probably explains why Bodycote is paying out 45% of its income to shareholders in the form of dividends. Unless businesses have highly compelling growth opportunities, they'll typically return some money to shareholders.
The Key Takeaway
In a nutshell, Bodycote has been trudging along with the same returns from the same amount of capital over the last five years. And investors appear hesitant that the trends will pick up because the stock has fallen 19% in the last five years. All in all, the inherent trends aren't typical of multi-baggers, so if that's what you're after, we think you might have more luck elsewhere.
If you'd like to know about the risks facing Bodycote, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
While Bodycote 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.
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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.