Investors Met With Slowing Returns on Capital At UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH)

By
Simply Wall St
Published
April 20, 2022
NYSE:UNH
Source: Shutterstock

If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. 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. With that in mind, the ROCE of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) looks decent, right now, so lets see what the trend of returns can tell us.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

For those that aren't sure what ROCE is, it measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for UnitedHealth Group:

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

0.18 = US$24b ÷ (US$221b - US$88b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

Therefore, UnitedHealth Group has an ROCE of 18%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 10% generated by the Healthcare industry.

See our latest analysis for UnitedHealth Group

roce
NYSE:UNH Return on Capital Employed April 20th 2022

In the above chart we have measured UnitedHealth Group'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 UnitedHealth Group.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

The trend of ROCE doesn't stand out much, but returns on a whole are decent. The company has employed 67% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 18%. 18% is a pretty standard return, and it provides some comfort knowing that UnitedHealth Group has consistently earned this amount. Stable returns in this ballpark can be unexciting, but if they can be maintained over the long run, they often provide nice rewards to shareholders.

Our Take On UnitedHealth Group's ROCE

To sum it up, UnitedHealth Group has simply been reinvesting capital steadily, at those decent rates of return. And long term investors would be thrilled with the 233% 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.

On a separate note, we've found 1 warning sign for UnitedHealth Group you'll probably want to know about.

If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive returns on equity.

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