What Should Investors Know About Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Return On Capital?

I am writing today to help inform people who are new to the stock market and want to begin learning the link between Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW)’s return fundamentals and stock market performance.

Buying Corning makes you a partial owner of the company. As a result, your investment is being put to work to fund operations and if you want to earn an attractive return on your investment, the business needs to be making an adequate amount of money from the funds you provide. This is because the actual cash flow generated by the business dictates the potential for income (dividends) and capital appreciation (price increases), which are the two ways to achieve positive returns when buying a stock. To understand Corning’s capital returns we will look at a useful metric called return on capital employed. This will tell us if the company is growing your capital and placing you in good stead to sell your shares at a profit.

Check out our latest analysis for Corning

What is Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)?

As an investor you have many alternative companies to choose from, which means there is an opportunity cost in any investment you make in the form of a foregone investment in another company. Accordingly, before you invest you need to assess the capital returns that the company has produced with reference to a certain benchmark to ensure that you are confident in the business’ ability to grow your capital at a level that grants an investment over other companies. To determine Corning’s capital return we will use ROCE, which tells us how much the company makes from the capital employed in their operations (for things like machinery, wages etc). GLW’s ROCE is calculated below:

ROCE Calculation for GLW

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) = Earnings Before Tax (EBT) ÷ (Capital Employed)

Capital Employed = (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

∴ ROCE = US$1.61b ÷ (US$26.14b – US$2.91b) = 6.9%

GLW’s 6.9% ROCE means that for every $100 you invest, the company creates $6.9. This shows Corning provides a dull capital return that is below the 15% ROCE that is typically considered to be a strong benchmark. Nevertheless, if GLW is clever with their reinvestments or dividend payments, investors can still grow their capital but may fall behind other more attractive opportunities in the market.

NYSE:GLW Last Perf August 28th 18
NYSE:GLW Last Perf August 28th 18

Why is this the case?

Corning’s relatively poor ROCE is tied to the movement in two factors that change over time: earnings and capital requirements. At the moment Corning is in an adverse position, but this can change if these factors improve. So it is important for investors to understand what is going on under the hood and look at how these variables have been behaving. Three years ago, GLW’s ROCE was 13.0%, which means the company’s capital returns have worsened. In this time, earnings have fallen from US$3.63b to US$1.61b and the amount of capital employed also fell but by a proportionally lesser volume, which suggests the smaller ROCE is due to a decline in earnings relative to capital requirements.

Next Steps

ROCE for GLW investors has fallen in the last few years and is currently at a level that makes us question whether the company is capable of providing a suitable return on investment. However, it is important to know that ROCE does not dictate returns alone, so you need to consider other fundamentals in the business such as future prospects and valuation. If you’re interested in diving deeper, take a look at what I’ve linked below for further information on these fundamentals and other potential investment opportunities.

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for GLW’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for GLW’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is GLW worth today? Despite the unattractive ROCE, is the outlook correctly factored in to the price? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether GLW is currently undervalued by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.