If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. However, after briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think Ascential (LON:ASCL) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?
Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. The formula for this calculation on Ascential is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.051 = UK£54m ÷ (UK£1.5b - UK£443m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
Thus, Ascential has an ROCE of 5.1%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Media industry average of 9.7%.
In the above chart we have measured Ascential's 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.
What Does the ROCE Trend For Ascential Tell Us?
When we looked at the ROCE trend at Ascential, we didn't gain much confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 8.0%, but since then they've fallen to 5.1%. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.
The Bottom Line On Ascential's ROCE
While returns have fallen for Ascential in recent times, we're encouraged to see that sales are growing and that the business is reinvesting in its operations. And there could be an opportunity here if other metrics look good too, because the stock has declined 51% in the last five years. So we think it'd be worthwhile to look further into this stock given the trends look encouraging.
If you're still interested in Ascential it's worth checking out our FREE intrinsic value approximation to see if it's trading at an attractive price in other respects.
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.