When we're researching a company, it's sometimes hard to find the warning signs, but there are some financial metrics that can help spot trouble early. When we see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) in conjunction with a declining base of capital employed, that's often how a mature business shows signs of aging. Trends like this ultimately mean the business is reducing its investments and also earning less on what it has invested. And from a first read, things don't look too good at Crest Nicholson Holdings (LON:CRST), so let's see why.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Crest Nicholson Holdings:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.075 = UK£84m ÷ (UK£1.5b - UK£365m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2021).
Thus, Crest Nicholson Holdings has an ROCE of 7.5%. In absolute terms, that's a low return, but it's much better than the Consumer Durables industry average of 6.2%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Crest Nicholson Holdings compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Crest Nicholson Holdings.
How Are Returns Trending?
In terms of Crest Nicholson Holdings' historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. Unfortunately the returns on capital have diminished from the 18% that they were earning five years ago. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Crest Nicholson Holdings becoming one if things continue as they have.
The Bottom Line
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. In spite of that, the stock has delivered a 28% return to shareholders who held over the last five years. Either way, we aren't huge fans of the current trends and so with that we think you might find better investments elsewhere.
If you'd like to know about the risks facing Crest Nicholson Holdings, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive returns on equity.
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