Should You Be Impressed By Kier Group's (LON:KIE) Returns on Capital?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
June 25, 2020

What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings back into the business at ever-higher rates of return. Although, when we looked at Kier Group (LON:KIE), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.

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 Kier Group, this is the formula:

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

0.087 = UK£115m ÷ (UK£2.7b - UK£1.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019).

Thus, Kier Group has an ROCE of 8.7%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Construction industry average of 18%.

Check out our latest analysis for Kier Group

LSE:KIE Past Revenue and Net Income June 25th 2020

Above you can the how the current ROCE for Kier Group's compares to it's prior returns on capital, but you can only tell so much from the past. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Kier Group here for free.

How Are Returns Trending?

There are better returns on capital out there than what we're seeing at Kier Group. The company has employed 68% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 8.7%. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.

Another thing to note, Kier Group has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 51%. 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.

The Bottom Line On Kier Group's ROCE

Long story short, while Kier Group has been reinvesting its capital, the returns that it's generating haven't increased. And investors may be expecting the fundamentals to get a lot worse because the stock has crashed 92% over the last five years. All in all, the inherent trends aren't typical of multi-baggers, so if that's what you're after, we think you might have more luck elsewhere.

If you'd like to know about the risks facing Kier Group, we've discovered 1 warning sign that you should be aware of.

While Kier 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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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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