Returns Are Gaining Momentum At Balfour Beatty (LON:BBY)

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 02, 2021
LSE:BBY
Source: Shutterstock

What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base 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. So on that note, Balfour Beatty (LON:BBY) looks quite promising in regards to its trends of return on capital.

Understanding 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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Balfour Beatty:

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

0.03 = UK£72m ÷ (UK£4.7b - UK£2.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2021).

Therefore, Balfour Beatty has an ROCE of 3.0%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Construction industry average of 8.2%.

Check out our latest analysis for Balfour Beatty

roce
LSE:BBY Return on Capital Employed November 3rd 2021

In the above chart we have measured Balfour Beatty's 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 Balfour Beatty here for free.

So How Is Balfour Beatty's ROCE Trending?

We're delighted to see that Balfour Beatty is reaping rewards from its investments and has now broken into profitability. While the business was unprofitable in the past, it's now turned things around and is earning 3.0% on its capital. On top of that, what's interesting is that the amount of capital being employed has remained steady, so the business hasn't needed to put any additional money to work to generate these higher returns. That being said, while an increase in efficiency is no doubt appealing, it'd be helpful to know if the company does have any investment plans going forward. Because in the end, a business can only get so efficient.

On a side note, Balfour Beatty's current liabilities are still rather high at 48% of total assets. This can bring about some risks because the company is basically operating with a rather large reliance on its suppliers or other sorts of short-term creditors. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.

Our Take On Balfour Beatty's ROCE

To bring it all together, Balfour Beatty has done well to increase the returns it's generating from its capital employed. Investors may not be impressed by the favorable underlying trends yet because over the last five years the stock has only returned 2.7% to shareholders. So with that in mind, we think the stock deserves further research.

One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing Balfour Beatty that you might find interesting.

For those who like to invest in solid companies, check out this free list of companies with solid balance sheets and high returns on equity.

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