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Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (NASDAQ:AY) Hasn't Managed To Accelerate Its Returns

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Did you know there are some financial metrics that can provide clues of a potential multi-bagger? Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. Having said that, from a first glance at Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (NASDAQ:AY) we aren't jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let's have a deeper look.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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. To calculate this metric for Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure, this is the formula:

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

0.04 = US$368m ÷ (US$10b - US$901m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

So, Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure has an ROCE of 4.0%. On its own that's a low return on capital but it's in line with the industry's average returns of 4.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

The Trend Of ROCE

There hasn't been much to report for Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure's returns and its level of capital employed because both metrics have been steady for the past five years. Businesses with these traits tend to be mature and steady operations because they're past the growth phase. So unless we see a substantial change at Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure in terms of ROCE and additional investments being made, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger. That being the case, it makes sense that Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure has been paying out 178% of its earnings to its shareholders. These mature businesses typically have reliable earnings and not many places to reinvest them, so the next best option is to put the earnings into shareholders pockets.

On a side note, Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure has done well to reduce current liabilities to 8.9% of total assets over the last five years. Effectively suppliers now fund less of the business, which can lower some elements of risk.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure has been trudging along with the same returns from the same amount of capital over the last five years. Investors must think there's better things to come because the stock has knocked it out of the park, delivering a 173% gain to shareholders who have held over the last five years. Ultimately, if the underlying trends persist, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger going forward.

One more thing: We've identified 4 warning signs with Atlantica Sustainable Infrastructure (at least 2 which are a bit unpleasant) , and understanding them would certainly be useful.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.