To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. Having said that, while the ROCE is currently high for Esautomotion (BIT:ESAU), we aren't jumping out of our chairs because returns are decreasing.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
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. To calculate this metric for Esautomotion, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.22 = €4.6m ÷ (€27m - €6.6m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).
Thus, Esautomotion has an ROCE of 22%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 6.5% earned by companies in a similar industry.
In the above chart we have measured Esautomotion'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.
How Are Returns Trending?
When we looked at the ROCE trend at Esautomotion, we didn't gain much confidence. To be more specific, while the ROCE is still high, it's fallen from 53% where it was four years ago. However, given capital employed and revenue have both increased it appears that the business is currently pursuing growth, at the consequence of short term returns. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.
On a side note, Esautomotion has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 24% 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 Key Takeaway
Even though returns on capital have fallen in the short term, we find it promising that revenue and capital employed have both increased for Esautomotion. And the stock has followed suit returning a meaningful 94% to shareholders over the last three years. So while the underlying trends could already be accounted for by investors, we still think this stock is worth looking into further.
One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing Esautomotion that you might find interesting.
If you want to search for more stocks that have been earning high returns, check out this free list of stocks with solid balance sheets that are also earning high returns on equity.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.