Stock Analysis

Powell Industries (NASDAQ:POWL) Is Experiencing Growth In Returns On Capital

NasdaqGS:POWL
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Did you know there are some financial metrics that can provide clues of a potential multi-bagger? One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing amount 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. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in Powell Industries' (NASDAQ:POWL) returns on capital, so let's have a look.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Powell Industries, this is the formula:

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

0.13 = US$43m ÷ (US$671m - US$335m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).

So, Powell Industries has an ROCE of 13%. That's a pretty standard return and it's in line with the industry average of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for Powell Industries

roce
NasdaqGS:POWL Return on Capital Employed September 29th 2023

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Powell Industries 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 Powell Industries Tell Us?

Powell Industries has broken into the black (profitability) and we're sure it's a sight for sore eyes. The company was generating losses five years ago, but has managed to turn it around and as we saw earlier is now earning 13%, which is always encouraging. On top of that, what's interesting is that the amount of capital being employed has remained steady, so the business hasn't needed to put any additional money to work to generate these higher returns. With no noticeable increase in capital employed, it's worth knowing what the company plans on doing going forward in regards to reinvesting and growing the business. Because in the end, a business can only get so efficient.

On a side note, we noticed that the improvement in ROCE appears to be partly fueled by an increase in current liabilities. Effectively this means that suppliers or short-term creditors are now funding 50% of the business, which is more than it was five years ago. Given it's pretty high ratio, we'd remind investors that having current liabilities at those levels can bring about some risks in certain businesses.

The Bottom Line On Powell Industries' ROCE

As discussed above, Powell Industries appears to be getting more proficient at generating returns since capital employed has remained flat but earnings (before interest and tax) are up. Since the stock has returned a staggering 194% to shareholders over the last five years, it looks like investors are recognizing these changes. In light of that, we think it's worth looking further into this stock because if Powell Industries can keep these trends up, it could have a bright future ahead.

If you'd like to know about the risks facing Powell Industries, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.

While Powell Industries may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.

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

Find out whether Powell Industries 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.

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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.