Howden Joinery Group (LON:HWDN) Is Reinvesting At Lower Rates Of Return

September 30, 2022
  •  Updated
November 14, 2022
LSE:HWDN
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If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing 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. Having said that, while the ROCE is currently high for Howden Joinery Group (LON:HWDN), we aren't jumping out of our chairs because returns are decreasing.

What Is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Howden Joinery Group, this is the formula:

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

0.29 = UK£427m ÷ (UK£2.0b - UK£503m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

So, Howden Joinery Group has an ROCE of 29%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Trade Distributors industry average of 14%.

See our latest analysis for Howden Joinery Group

roce
LSE:HWDN Return on Capital Employed September 30th 2022

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Howden Joinery Group compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

So How Is Howden Joinery Group's ROCE Trending?

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Howden Joinery Group, we didn't gain much confidence. To be more specific, while the ROCE is still high, it's fallen from 44% where it was five years ago. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.

On a related note, Howden Joinery Group has decreased its current liabilities to 25% 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. Since the business is basically funding more of its operations with it's own money, you could argue this has made the business less efficient at generating ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Howden Joinery Group's ROCE

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Howden Joinery Group is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. These trends are starting to be recognized by investors since the stock has delivered a 23% gain to shareholders who've held over the last five years. Therefore we'd recommend looking further into this stock to confirm if it has the makings of a good investment.

Howden Joinery Group does have some risks, we noticed 2 warning signs (and 1 which shouldn't be ignored) we think you should know about.

If you want to search for more stocks that have been earning high returns, check out this free list of stocks with solid balance sheets that are also earning high returns on equity.

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