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What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing amount of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. Having said that, from a first glance at CSX (NASDAQ:CSX) we aren't jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let's have a deeper look.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for CSX:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.11 = US$4.3b ÷ (US$40b - US$1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
So, CSX has an ROCE of 11%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Transportation industry average of 8.9% it's much better.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for CSX compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for CSX.
What Does the ROCE Trend For CSX Tell Us?
There hasn't been much to report for CSX's returns and its level of capital employed because both metrics have been steady for the past five years. This tells us the company isn't reinvesting in itself, so it's plausible that it's past the growth phase. With that in mind, unless investment picks up again in the future, we wouldn't expect CSX to be a multi-bagger going forward.
We can conclude that in regards to CSX's returns on capital employed and the trends, there isn't much change to report on. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 262% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. Ultimately, if the underlying trends persist, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger going forward.
Like most companies, CSX does come with some risks, and we've found 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
While CSX may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.
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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