Ignoring the stock price of a company, what are the underlying trends that tell us a business is past the growth phase? Typically, we'll see the trend of both return on capital employed (ROCE) declining and this usually coincides with a decreasing amount of capital employed. This indicates the company is producing less profit from its investments and its total assets are decreasing. And from a first read, things don't look too good at Aurona Industries (GTSM:8074), so let's see why.
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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Aurona Industries:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.07 = NT$98m ÷ (NT$2.4b - NT$978m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
Therefore, Aurona Industries has an ROCE of 7.0%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Electronic industry average of 11%.
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're interested in investigating Aurona Industries' past further, check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What Can We Tell From Aurona Industries' ROCE Trend?
There is reason to be cautious about Aurona Industries, given the returns are trending downwards. About five years ago, returns on capital were 9.5%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. Companies that exhibit these attributes tend to not be shrinking, but they can be mature and facing pressure on their margins from competition. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Aurona Industries becoming one if things continue as they have.On a side note, Aurona Industries' current liabilities have increased over the last five years to 41% of total assets, effectively distorting the ROCE to some degree. Without this increase, it's likely that ROCE would be even lower than 7.0%. And with current liabilities at these levels, suppliers or short-term creditors are effectively funding a large part of the business, which can introduce some risks.
The Key Takeaway
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. In spite of that, the stock has delivered a 4.2% return to shareholders who held over the last five years. Either way, we aren't huge fans of the current trends and so with that we think you might find better investments elsewhere.
One more thing: We've identified 4 warning signs with Aurona Industries (at least 1 which is concerning) , and understanding them would certainly be useful.
For those who like to invest in solid companies, check out this free list of companies with solid balance sheets and high returns on equity.
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