When we're researching a company, it's sometimes hard to find the warning signs, but there are some financial metrics that can help spot trouble early. When we see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) in conjunction with a declining base of capital employed, that's often how a mature business shows signs of aging. This indicates the company is producing less profit from its investments and its total assets are decreasing. On that note, looking into Gentherm (NASDAQ:THRM), we weren't too upbeat about how things were going.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
For those that aren't sure what ROCE is, it measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Gentherm:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.16 = US$114m ÷ (US$932m - US$223m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
Thus, Gentherm has an ROCE of 16%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Auto Components industry average of 11% it's much better.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Gentherm 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 Can We Tell From Gentherm's ROCE Trend?
In terms of Gentherm's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 21%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Gentherm becoming one if things continue as they have.
Our Take On Gentherm's ROCE
In summary, it's unfortunate that Gentherm is generating lower returns from the same amount of capital. However the stock has delivered a 86% return to shareholders over the last five years, so investors might be expecting the trends to turn around. In any case, the current underlying trends don't bode well for long term performance so unless they reverse, we'd start looking elsewhere.
While Gentherm doesn't shine too bright in this respect, it's still worth seeing if the company is trading at attractive prices. You can find that out with our FREE intrinsic value estimation on our platform.
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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