To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. Having said that, from a first glance at Ultralife (NASDAQ:ULBI) we aren't jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let's have a deeper look.
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 Ultralife:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.048 = US$5.7m ÷ (US$138m - US$19m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2020).
So, Ultralife has an ROCE of 4.8%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Electrical industry average of 10%.
Historical performance is a great place to start when researching a stock so above you can see the gauge for Ultralife's ROCE against it's prior returns. If you're interested in investigating Ultralife's past further, check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
There are better returns on capital out there than what we're seeing at Ultralife. The company has consistently earned 4.8% for the last five years, and the capital employed within the business has risen 68% in that time. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.
The Key Takeaway
Long story short, while Ultralife has been reinvesting its capital, the returns that it's generating haven't increased. Unsurprisingly, the stock has only gained 37% over the last five years, which potentially indicates that investors are accounting for this going forward. Therefore, if you're looking for a multi-bagger, we'd propose looking at other options.
On a separate note, we've found 1 warning sign for Ultralife you'll probably want to know about.
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.
If you decide to trade Ultralife, use the lowest-cost* platform that is rated #1 Overall by Barron’s, Interactive Brokers. Trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on 135 markets, all from a single integrated account.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
*Interactive Brokers Rated Lowest Cost Broker by StockBrokers.com Annual Online Review 2020
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.