Stock Analysis

Should We Be Excited About The Trends Of Returns At Howden Joinery Group (LON:HWDN)?

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LSE:HWDN
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Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount 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. However, after investigating Howden Joinery Group (LON:HWDN), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

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. 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)

0.15 = UK£172m ÷ (UK£1.4b - UK£302m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).

So, Howden Joinery Group has an ROCE of 15%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 12% generated by the Trade Distributors industry.

See our latest analysis for Howden Joinery Group

roce
LSE:HWDN Return on Capital Employed November 21st 2020

In the above chart we have measured Howden Joinery Group's 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 Can We Tell From Howden Joinery Group's ROCE Trend?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Howden Joinery Group doesn't inspire confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 45%, but since then they've fallen to 15%. However it looks like Howden Joinery Group might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company's sales haven't changed much in the last 12 months. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.

On a side note, Howden Joinery Group has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 21% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. 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.

The Bottom Line On Howden Joinery Group's ROCE

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Howden Joinery Group's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. And investors may be recognizing these trends since the stock has only returned a total of 39% to shareholders over the last five years. So if you're looking for a multi-bagger, the underlying trends indicate you may have better chances elsewhere.

Howden Joinery Group could be trading at an attractive price in other respects, so you might find our free intrinsic value estimation on our platform quite valuable.

While Howden Joinery Group may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.

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