To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. However, after investigating QAF (SGX:Q01), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.
What is 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. The formula for this calculation on QAF is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.10 = S$63m ÷ (S$864m - S$236m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
Therefore, QAF has an ROCE of 10.0%. On its own that's a low return on capital but it's in line with the industry's average returns of 10%.
Historical performance is a great place to start when researching a stock so above you can see the gauge for QAF's ROCE against it's prior returns. If you want to delve into the historical earnings, revenue and cash flow of QAF, check out these free graphs here.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
When we looked at the ROCE trend at QAF, we didn't gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 10.0% from 14% five years ago. Meanwhile, the business is utilizing more capital but this hasn't moved the needle much in terms of sales in the past 12 months, so this could reflect longer term investments. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.
Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by QAF's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. And investors may be recognizing these trends since the stock has only returned a total of 7.7% to shareholders over the last five years. As a result, if you're hunting for a multi-bagger, we think you'd have more luck elsewhere.
If you'd like to know more about QAF, we've spotted 2 warning signs, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.
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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QAF Limited, an investment holding company, engages in the manufacture and distribution of bread, bakery, and confectionery products in Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and internationally.
Flawless balance sheet second-rate dividend payer.