When researching a stock for investment, what can tell us that the company is in decline? Typically, we'll see the trend of both return on capital employed (ROCE) declining and this usually coincides with a decreasing amount of capital employed. This combination can tell you that not only is the company investing less, it's earning less on what it does invest. So after we looked into Weyco Group (NASDAQ:WEYS), the trends above didn't look too great.
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. To calculate this metric for Weyco Group, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.04 = US$9.2m ÷ (US$257m - US$27m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
Thus, Weyco Group has an ROCE of 4.0%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Retail Distributors industry average of 26%.
While the past is not representative of the future, it can be helpful to know how a company has performed historically, which is why we have this chart above. If you want to delve into the historical earnings, revenue and cash flow of Weyco Group, check out these free graphs here.
The Trend Of ROCE
We are a bit worried about the trend of returns on capital at Weyco Group. Unfortunately the returns on capital have diminished from the 14% that they were earning five years ago. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Weyco Group becoming one if things continue as they have.On a related note, Weyco Group has decreased its current liabilities to 10% 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 Bottom Line On Weyco Group's ROCE
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. Long term shareholders who've owned the stock over the last five years have experienced a 24% depreciation in their investment, so it appears the market might not like these trends either. With underlying trends that aren't great in these areas, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
One final note, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Weyco Group (including 1 which can't be ignored) .
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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