Martela Oyj's (HEL:MARAS) Returns On Capital Not Reflecting Well On The Business

Simply Wall St
May 08, 2022
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What underlying fundamental trends can indicate that a company might be in decline? 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. Ultimately this means that the company is earning less per dollar invested and on top of that, it's shrinking its base of capital employed. In light of that, from a first glance at Martela Oyj (HEL:MARAS), we've spotted some signs that it could be struggling, so let's investigate.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. The formula for this calculation on Martela Oyj is:

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

0.053 = €784k ÷ (€51m - €36m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

So, Martela Oyj has an ROCE of 5.3%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Commercial Services industry average of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Martela Oyj

HLSE:MARAS Return on Capital Employed May 8th 2022

In the above chart we have measured Martela Oyj's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Martela Oyj.

The Trend Of ROCE

We are a bit anxious about the trends of ROCE at Martela Oyj. Unfortunately, returns have declined substantially over the last five years to the 5.3% we see today. On top of that, the business is utilizing 52% less capital within its operations. The combination of lower ROCE and less capital employed can indicate that a business is likely to be facing some competitive headwinds or seeing an erosion to its moat. Typically businesses that exhibit these characteristics aren't the ones that tend to multiply over the long term, because statistically speaking, they've already gone through the growth phase of their life cycle.

On a side note, Martela Oyj's current liabilities have increased over the last five years to 71% of total assets, effectively distorting the ROCE to some degree. Without this increase, it's likely that ROCE would be even lower than 5.3%. And with current liabilities at these levels, suppliers or short-term creditors are effectively funding a large part of the business, which can introduce some risks.

In Conclusion...

In summary, it's unfortunate that Martela Oyj is shrinking its capital base and also generating lower returns. Unsurprisingly then, the stock has dived 74% over the last five years, so investors are recognizing these changes and don't like the company's prospects. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.

If you want to continue researching Martela Oyj, you might be interested to know about the 3 warning signs that our analysis has discovered.

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

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