Stock Analysis

Capital Allocation Trends At Karat Packaging (NASDAQ:KRT) Aren't Ideal

NasdaqGS:KRT
Source: Shutterstock

Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing 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. Although, when we looked at Karat Packaging (NASDAQ:KRT), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?

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 Karat Packaging:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.15 = US$33m ÷ (US$273m - US$44m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2023).

Therefore, Karat Packaging has an ROCE of 15%. By itself that's a normal return on capital and it's in line with the industry's average returns of 15%.

View our latest analysis for Karat Packaging

roce
NasdaqGS:KRT Return on Capital Employed May 12th 2023

In the above chart we have measured Karat Packaging'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?

In terms of Karat Packaging's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 15% from 21% five years ago. However it looks like Karat Packaging might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company's sales haven't changed much in the last 12 months. 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.

On a related note, Karat Packaging has decreased its current liabilities to 16% of total assets. Since the ratio used to be 69%, that's a significant reduction and it no doubt explains the drop 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

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Karat Packaging's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Additionally, the stock's total return to shareholders over the last year has been flat, which isn't too surprising. On the whole, we aren't too inspired by the underlying trends and we think there may be better chances of finding a multi-bagger elsewhere.

Karat Packaging could be trading at an attractive price in other respects, so you might find our free intrinsic value estimation on our platform quite valuable.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Karat Packaging is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.

View the Free Analysis

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.