The Trend Of High Returns At Enerplus (TSE:ERF) Has Us Very Interested

Simply Wall St
March 17, 2022
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If we want to find a stock that could multiply over the long term, what are the underlying trends we should look for? In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. 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 Enerplus (TSE:ERF) 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. To calculate this metric for Enerplus, this is the formula:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.26 = US$357m ÷ (US$2.0b - US$621m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

Therefore, Enerplus has an ROCE of 26%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Oil and Gas industry average of 9.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Enerplus

TSX:ERF Return on Capital Employed March 17th 2022

In the above chart we have measured Enerplus' 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.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

We're delighted to see that Enerplus is reaping rewards from its investments and has now broken into profitability. Historically the company was generating losses but as we can see from the latest figures referenced above, they're now earning 26% on their capital employed. Additionally, the business is utilizing 23% less capital than it was five years ago, and taken at face value, that can mean the company needs less funds at work to get a return. This could potentially mean that the company is selling some of its assets.

On a side note, we noticed that the improvement in ROCE appears to be partly fueled by an increase in current liabilities. Essentially the business now has suppliers or short-term creditors funding about 31% of its operations, which isn't ideal. It's worth keeping an eye on this because as the percentage of current liabilities to total assets increases, some aspects of risk also increase.

The Key Takeaway

In summary, it's great to see that Enerplus has been able to turn things around and earn higher returns on lower amounts of capital. And with a respectable 70% awarded to those who held the stock over the last five years, you could argue that these developments are starting to get the attention they deserve. In light of that, we think it's worth looking further into this stock because if Enerplus can keep these trends up, it could have a bright future ahead.

On a final note, we've found 2 warning signs for Enerplus that we think you should be aware of.

Enerplus is not the only stock earning high returns. If you'd like to see more, check out our free list of companies earning high returns on equity with solid fundamentals.

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