If you're looking for a multi-bagger, there's a few things to keep an eye out for. One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing amount of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. That's why when we briefly looked at Greif's (NYSE:GEF) ROCE trend, we were pretty happy with what we saw.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
For those who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Greif:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.12 = US$528m ÷ (US$5.8b - US$1.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2021).
Thus, Greif has an ROCE of 12%. That's a relatively normal return on capital, and it's around the 10% generated by the Packaging industry.
In the above chart we have measured Greif'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 Greif.
How Are Returns Trending?
While the current returns on capital are decent, they haven't changed much. Over the past five years, ROCE has remained relatively flat at around 12% and the business has deployed 80% more capital into its operations. Since 12% is a moderate ROCE though, it's good to see a business can continue to reinvest at these decent rates of return. 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.
The Key Takeaway
To sum it up, Greif has simply been reinvesting capital steadily, at those decent rates of return. And given the stock has only risen 34% over the last five years, we'd suspect the market is beginning to recognize these trends. That's why it could be worth your time looking into this stock further to discover if it has more traits of a multi-bagger.
Like most companies, Greif does come with some risks, and we've found 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
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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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.