Stock Analysis

Slowing Rates Of Return At Federal Signal (NYSE:FSS) Leave Little Room For Excitement

NYSE:FSS
Source: Shutterstock

What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount 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. So, when we ran our eye over Federal Signal's (NYSE:FSS) trend of ROCE, we liked what we saw.

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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Federal Signal:

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

0.13 = US$187m ÷ (US$1.7b - US$198m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).

Therefore, Federal Signal has an ROCE of 13%. That's a relatively normal return on capital, and it's around the 12% generated by the Machinery industry.

See our latest analysis for Federal Signal

roce
NYSE:FSS Return on Capital Employed October 31st 2023

In the above chart we have measured Federal Signal'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.

So How Is Federal Signal's ROCE Trending?

The trend of ROCE doesn't stand out much, but returns on a whole are decent. The company has employed 69% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 13%. 13% is a pretty standard return, and it provides some comfort knowing that Federal Signal has consistently earned this amount. Over long periods of time, returns like these might not be too exciting, but with consistency they can pay off in terms of share price returns.

What We Can Learn From Federal Signal's ROCE

The main thing to remember is that Federal Signal has proven its ability to continually reinvest at respectable rates of return. And long term investors would be thrilled with the 170% return they've received over the last five years. So even though the stock might be more "expensive" than it was before, we think the strong fundamentals warrant this stock for further research.

One more thing to note, we've identified 1 warning sign with Federal Signal and understanding it should be part of your investment process.

While Federal Signal 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 Federal Signal 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.