Stock Analysis

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) Might Be Having Difficulty Using Its Capital Effectively

NYSE:HSY
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If we want to find a stock that could multiply over the long term, what are the underlying trends we should look for? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, 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 Hershey (NYSE:HSY), they do have a high ROCE, but we weren't exactly elated from how returns are trending.

What Is 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. The formula for this calculation on Hershey is:

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

0.30 = US$2.3b ÷ (US$11b - US$3.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2023).

So, Hershey has an ROCE of 30%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Food industry average of 10%.

View our latest analysis for Hershey

roce
NYSE:HSY Return on Capital Employed May 3rd 2023

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Hershey 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 Hershey here for free.

How Are Returns Trending?

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Hershey, we didn't gain much confidence. While it's comforting that the ROCE is high, five years ago it was 45%. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

On a side note, Hershey has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 30% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money.

The Key Takeaway

Even though returns on capital have fallen in the short term, we find it promising that revenue and capital employed have both increased for Hershey. And the stock has done incredibly well with a 231% return over the last five years, so long term investors are no doubt ecstatic with that result. So should these growth trends continue, we'd be optimistic on the stock going forward.

If you'd like to know about the risks facing Hershey, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.

If you'd like to see other companies earning high returns, check out our free list of companies earning high returns with solid balance sheets here.

Valuation is complex, but we're helping make it simple.

Find out whether Hershey 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.