If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should 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. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. Although, when we looked at Big River Industries (ASX:BRI), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
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. To calculate this metric for Big River Industries, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.089 = AU$9.5m ÷ (AU$151m - AU$45m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).
Thus, Big River Industries has an ROCE of 8.9%. In absolute terms, that's a low return but it's around the Forestry industry average of 7.6%.
In the above chart we have measured Big River Industries' 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 Big River Industries here for free.
What Does the ROCE Trend For Big River Industries Tell Us?
In terms of Big River Industries' historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 12% over the last five years. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.
On a side note, Big River Industries has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 30% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money.
The Bottom Line
In summary, Big River Industries is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. Although the market must be expecting these trends to improve because the stock has gained 28% over the last three years. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
Like most companies, Big River Industries does come with some risks, and we've found 3 warning signs that you should be aware of.
While Big River Industries 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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