Stock Analysis

The Return Trends At Powell Industries (NASDAQ:POWL) Look Promising

NasdaqGS:POWL
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If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. So when we looked at Powell Industries (NASDAQ:POWL) and its trend of ROCE, we really liked what we saw.

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

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

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

0.024 = US$7.2m ÷ (US$493m - US$186m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

So, Powell Industries has an ROCE of 2.4%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Electrical industry average of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Powell Industries

roce
NasdaqGS:POWL Return on Capital Employed December 7th 2022

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.

How Are Returns Trending?

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 2.4%, which is always encouraging. Interestingly, the capital employed by the business has remained relatively flat, so these higher returns are either from prior investments paying off or increased efficiencies. That being said, while an increase in efficiency is no doubt appealing, it'd be helpful to know if the company does have any investment plans going forward. So if you're looking for high growth, you'll want to see a business's capital employed also increasing.

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 38% of the business, which is more than it was five years ago. Keep an eye out for future increases because when the ratio of current liabilities to total assets gets particularly high, this can introduce some new risks for the business.

What We Can Learn From Powell Industries' ROCE

In summary, we're delighted to see that Powell Industries has been able to increase efficiencies and earn higher rates of return on the same amount of capital. Since the stock has only returned 33% to shareholders over the last five years, the promising fundamentals may not be recognized yet by investors. So exploring more about this stock could uncover a good opportunity, if the valuation and other metrics stack up.

One more thing: We've identified 2 warning signs with Powell Industries (at least 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) , 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.

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.