Here's What's Concerning About HNI's (NYSE:HNI) Returns On Capital

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 12, 2022
NYSE:HNI
Source: Shutterstock

When it comes to investing, there are some useful financial metrics that can warn us when a business is potentially in trouble. More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. Ultimately this means that the company is earning less per dollar invested and on top of that, it's shrinking its base of capital employed. In light of that, from a first glance at HNI (NYSE:HNI), we've spotted some signs that it could be struggling, so let's investigate.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. To calculate this metric for HNI, this is the formula:

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

0.11 = US$114m ÷ (US$1.5b - US$494m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2021).

Therefore, HNI has an ROCE of 11%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 8.6% generated by the Commercial Services industry.

Check out our latest analysis for HNI

roce
NYSE:HNI Return on Capital Employed January 12th 2022

Above you can see how the current ROCE for HNI compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering HNI here for free.

How Are Returns Trending?

In terms of HNI's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, the ROCE was 20% five years ago, but since then it has dropped noticeably. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. Companies that exhibit these attributes tend to not be shrinking, but they can be mature and facing pressure on their margins from competition. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on HNI becoming one if things continue as they have.

What We Can Learn From HNI's ROCE

In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. And, the stock has remained flat over the last five years, so investors don't seem too impressed either. With underlying trends that aren't great in these areas, we'd consider looking elsewhere.

HNI 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.

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