Stock Analysis

Bilfinger (ETR:GBF) Could Be Struggling To Allocate Capital

XTRA:GBF
Source: Shutterstock

To avoid investing in a business that's in decline, there's a few financial metrics that can provide early indications of aging. 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. This combination can tell you that not only is the company investing less, it's earning less on what it does invest. And from a first read, things don't look too good at Bilfinger (ETR:GBF), so let's see why.

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 Bilfinger, this is the formula:

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

0.064 = €131m ÷ (€3.2b - €1.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

Therefore, Bilfinger has an ROCE of 6.4%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Commercial Services industry average of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Bilfinger

roce
XTRA:GBF Return on Capital Employed September 11th 2021

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Bilfinger 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 Bilfinger here for free.

How Are Returns Trending?

In terms of Bilfinger's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, the ROCE was 8.8% five years ago, but since then it has dropped noticeably. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Bilfinger to turn into a multi-bagger.

On a related note, Bilfinger has decreased its current liabilities to 37% of total assets. That could partly explain why the ROCE has dropped. Effectively this means their suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of the business, which reduces some elements of risk. 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, it's unfortunate that Bilfinger is generating lower returns from the same amount of capital. Despite the concerning underlying trends, the stock has actually gained 24% 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.

Bilfinger does come with some risks though, we found 3 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 2 of those are a bit concerning...

While Bilfinger isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

When trading Bilfinger or any other investment, use the platform considered by many to be the Professional's Gateway to the Worlds Market, Interactive Brokers. You get the lowest-cost* trading on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds worldwide from a single integrated account. Promoted


Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Bilfinger is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis

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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020


Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.