Stock Analysis

Return Trends At SSE (LON:SSE) Aren't Appealing

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LSE:SSE
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What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? 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 briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think SSE (LON:SSE) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.

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 SSE:

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

0.091 = UK£1.5b ÷ (UK£20b - UK£3.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

So, SSE has an ROCE of 9.1%. In absolute terms, that's a low return, but it's much better than the Electric Utilities industry average of 6.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for SSE

roce
LSE:SSE Return on Capital Employed March 29th 2021

Above you can see how the current ROCE for SSE 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.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

There hasn't been much to report for SSE's returns and its level of capital employed because both metrics have been steady for the past five years. This tells us the company isn't reinvesting in itself, so it's plausible that it's past the growth phase. So unless we see a substantial change at SSE in terms of ROCE and additional investments being made, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger. On top of that you'll notice that SSE has been paying out a large portion (89%) of earnings in the form of dividends to shareholders. These mature businesses typically have reliable earnings and not many places to reinvest them, so the next best option is to put the earnings into shareholders pockets.

One more thing to note, even though ROCE has remained relatively flat over the last five years, the reduction in current liabilities to 18% of total assets, is good to see from a business owner's perspective. This can eliminate some of the risks inherent in the operations because the business has less outstanding obligations to their suppliers and or short-term creditors than they did previously.

The Bottom Line

We can conclude that in regards to SSE's returns on capital employed and the trends, there isn't much change to report on. Unsurprisingly, the stock has only gained 36% over the last five years, which potentially indicates that investors are accounting for this going forward. Therefore, if you're looking for a multi-bagger, we'd propose looking at other options.

One final note, you should learn about the 3 warning signs we've spotted with SSE (including 2 which are concerning) .

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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