If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. Although, when we looked at Aeon (M) Bhd (KLSE:AEON), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
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. The formula for this calculation on Aeon (M) Bhd is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.069 = RM259m ÷ (RM6.1b - RM2.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).
So, Aeon (M) Bhd has an ROCE of 6.9%. In absolute terms, that's a low return, but it's much better than the Multiline Retail industry average of 5.2%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Aeon (M) Bhd 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 Does the ROCE Trend For Aeon (M) Bhd Tell Us?
In terms of Aeon (M) Bhd's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 12% over the last five years. Given the business is employing more capital while revenue has slipped, this is a bit concerning. This could mean that the business is losing its competitive advantage or market share, because while more money is being put into ventures, it's actually producing a lower return - "less bang for their buck" per se.
On a side note, Aeon (M) Bhd has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 38% of total assets. That could partly explain why the ROCE has dropped. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money.
The Bottom Line
We're a bit apprehensive about Aeon (M) Bhd because despite more capital being deployed in the business, returns on that capital and sales have both fallen. Investors haven't taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 49% from where it was five years ago. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
On a final note, we found 3 warning signs for Aeon (M) Bhd (1 is significant) 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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