What Should Investors Know About Campbell Soup Company’s (NYSE:CPB) Capital Returns?

This analysis is intended to introduce important early concepts to people who are starting to invest and want a simplistic look at the return on Campbell Soup Company (NYSE:CPB) stock.

Buying Campbell Soup makes you a partial owner of the company. As a result, your investment is being put to work to fund operations and if you want to earn an attractive return on your investment, the business needs to be making an adequate amount of money from the funds you provide. This is because the actual cash flow generated by the business dictates the potential for income (dividends) and capital appreciation (price increases), which are the two ways to achieve positive returns when buying a stock. Thus, to understand how your money can grow by investing in Campbell Soup, you need to look at what the company returns to owners for the use of their capital, which can be done in many ways but today we will use return on capital employed (ROCE).

See our latest analysis for Campbell Soup

ROCE: Explanation and Calculation

You only have a finite amount of capital to invest, so there are only so many companies that you can add to your portfolio. Accordingly, before you invest you need to assess the capital returns that the company has produced with reference to a certain benchmark to ensure that you are confident in the business’ ability to grow your capital at a level that grants an investment over other companies. To determine Campbell Soup’s capital return we will use ROCE, which tells us how much the company makes from the capital employed in their operations (for things like machinery, wages etc). Take a look at the formula box beneath:

ROCE Calculation for CPB

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) = Earnings Before Tax (EBT) ÷ (Capital Employed)

Capital Employed = (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

∴ ROCE = US$1.49b ÷ (US$14.57b – US$3.40b) = 13.36%

CPB’s 13.36% ROCE means that for every $100 you invest, the company creates $13.4. Comparing this to a healthy 15% benchmark shows Campbell Soup is currently unable to return a desired amount to owners for the use of their capital, which isn’t favourable for investors who have forgone other potentially solid companies.

NYSE:CPB Last Perf August 9th 18
NYSE:CPB Last Perf August 9th 18

A deeper look

Campbell Soup’s relatively poor ROCE is tied to the movement in two factors that change over time: earnings and capital requirements. At the moment Campbell Soup is in an adverse position, but this can change if these factors improve. Therefore, investors need to understand the trend of the inputs in the formula above, so that they can see if there is an opportunity to invest. Looking three years in the past, it is evident that CPB’s ROCE has deteriorated from 21.70%, indicating the company’s capital returns have declined. We can see that earnings have actually increased from US$1.18b to US$1.49b but capital employed has increased by a relatively larger volume due to an increase in total assets , which means that although earnings have increased, CPB requires more capital to produce each $1 of earnings.

Next Steps

ROCE for CPB investors has fallen in the last few years and is currently at a level that makes us question whether the company is capable of providing a suitable return on investment. However, it is important to know that ROCE does not dictate returns alone, so you need to consider other fundamentals in the business such as future prospects and valuation. Campbell Soup’s fundamentals can be explored with the links I’ve provided below if you are interested, otherwise you can start looking at other high-performing stocks.

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for CPB’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for CPB’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is CPB worth today? Despite the unattractive ROCE, is the outlook correctly factored in to the price? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether CPB is currently undervalued by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.