If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. In light of that, when we looked at ICU Medical (NASDAQ:ICUI) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for ICU Medical, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.079 = US$126m ÷ (US$1.8b - US$180m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
So, ICU Medical has an ROCE of 7.9%. Even though it's in line with the industry average of 8.2%, it's still a low return by itself.
In the above chart we have measured ICU Medical's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for ICU Medical.
What Does the ROCE Trend For ICU Medical Tell Us?
On the surface, the trend of ROCE at ICU Medical doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 15% over the last five years. Meanwhile, the business is utilizing more capital but this hasn't moved the needle much in terms of sales in the past 12 months, so this could reflect longer term investments. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.
The Bottom Line On ICU Medical's ROCE
In summary, ICU Medical is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. Since the stock has gained an impressive 72% over the last five years, investors must think there's better things to come. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing ICU Medical that you might find interesting.
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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