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Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount 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. Although, when we looked at Casella Waste Systems (NASDAQ:CWST), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
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. The formula for this calculation on Casella Waste Systems is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.075 = US$63m ÷ (US$967m - US$129m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2020).
Therefore, Casella Waste Systems has an ROCE of 7.5%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Commercial Services industry average of 9.8%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Casella Waste Systems 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.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
There are better returns on capital out there than what we're seeing at Casella Waste Systems. The company has consistently earned 7.5% for the last five years, and the capital employed within the business has risen 47% in that time. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.
Our Take On Casella Waste Systems' ROCE
In summary, Casella Waste Systems has simply been reinvesting capital and generating the same low rate of return as before. Investors must think there's better things to come because the stock has knocked it out of the park delivering a 771% gain to shareholders who have held over the last five years. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
On a final note, we found 2 warning signs for Casella Waste Systems (1 is a bit unpleasant) you should be aware of.
While Casella Waste Systems isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.
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