Returns On Capital At Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) Paint A Concerning Picture

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 06, 2022
NasdaqGS:URBN
Source: Shutterstock

To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? 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. In light of that, when we looked at Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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 Urban Outfitters:

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

0.14 = US$403m ÷ (US$3.9b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2021).

So, Urban Outfitters has an ROCE of 14%. In isolation, that's a pretty standard return but against the Specialty Retail industry average of 20%, it's not as good.

See our latest analysis for Urban Outfitters

roce
NasdaqGS:URBN Return on Capital Employed January 6th 2022

In the above chart we have measured Urban Outfitters' prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Are Returns Trending?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Urban Outfitters doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 25% over the last five years. However, given capital employed and revenue have both increased it appears that the business is currently pursuing growth, at the consequence of short term returns. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.

The Bottom Line On Urban Outfitters' ROCE

While returns have fallen for Urban Outfitters in recent times, we're encouraged to see that sales are growing and that the business is reinvesting in its operations. These trends are starting to be recognized by investors since the stock has delivered a 4.8% gain to shareholders who've held over the last five years. So this stock may still be an appealing investment opportunity, if other fundamentals prove to be sound.

Urban Outfitters does come with some risks though, we found 3 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 2 of those can't be ignored...

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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