Ignoring the stock price of a company, what are the underlying trends that tell us a business is past the growth phase? More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This indicates to us that the business is not only shrinking the size of its net assets, but its returns are falling as well. On that note, looking into Anglo-Eastern Plantations (LON:AEP), we weren't too upbeat about how things were going.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
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 Anglo-Eastern Plantations:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.048 = US$25m ÷ (US$546m - US$25m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
So, Anglo-Eastern Plantations has an ROCE of 4.8%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Food industry average of 8.6%.
While the past is not representative of the future, it can be helpful to know how a company has performed historically, which is why we have this chart above. If you'd like to look at how Anglo-Eastern Plantations has performed in the past in other metrics, you can view this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
The Trend Of ROCE
In terms of Anglo-Eastern Plantations' historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 11%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. This combination can be indicative of a mature business that still has areas to deploy capital, but the returns received aren't as high due potentially to new competition or smaller margins. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Anglo-Eastern Plantations becoming one if things continue as they have.
The Bottom Line On Anglo-Eastern Plantations' ROCE
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. But investors must be expecting an improvement of sorts because over the last five yearsthe stock has delivered a respectable 47% return. Regardless, we don't feel too comfortable with the fundamentals so we'd be steering clear of this stock for now.
If you want to continue researching Anglo-Eastern Plantations, you might be interested to know about the 2 warning signs that our analysis has discovered.
While Anglo-Eastern Plantations isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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