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. One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing 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. With that in mind, the ROCE of Flex (NASDAQ:FLEX) looks decent, right now, so lets see what the trend of returns can tell us.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. The formula for this calculation on Flex is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.11 = US$987m ÷ (US$19b - US$11b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).
So, Flex has an ROCE of 11%. That's a pretty standard return and it's in line with the industry average of 11%.
In the above chart we have measured Flex'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 Flex Tell Us?
While the returns on capital are good, they haven't moved much. The company has employed 41% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 11%. Since 11% is a moderate ROCE though, it's good to see a business can continue to reinvest at these decent rates of return. Stable returns in this ballpark can be unexciting, but if they can be maintained over the long run, they often provide nice rewards to shareholders.
On a side note, Flex's current liabilities are still rather high at 55% of total assets. This effectively means that suppliers (or short-term creditors) are funding a large portion of the business, so just be aware that this can introduce some elements of risk. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.
The Bottom Line On Flex's ROCE
The main thing to remember is that Flex has proven its ability to continually reinvest at respectable rates of return. However, over the last five years, the stock hasn't provided much growth to shareholders in the way of total returns. That's why we think it'd be worthwhile to look further into this stock given the fundamentals are appealing.
Like most companies, Flex does come with some risks, and we've found 1 warning sign that you should be aware of.
If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive 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.