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What underlying fundamental trends can indicate that a company might be in decline? More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This reveals that the company isn't compounding shareholder wealth because returns are falling and its net asset base is shrinking. So after glancing at the trends within GTN (ASX:GTN), we weren't too hopeful.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
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. To calculate this metric for GTN, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.011 = AU$3.3m ÷ (AU$330m - AU$36m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).
Therefore, GTN has an ROCE of 1.1%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Media industry average of 6.7%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for GTN 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 is reason to be cautious about GTN, given the returns are trending downwards. Unfortunately the returns on capital have diminished from the 3.6% that they were earning five years ago. On top of that, it's worth noting that the amount of capital employed within the business has remained relatively steady. This combination can be indicative of a mature business that still has areas to deploy capital, but the returns received aren't as high due potentially to new competition or smaller margins. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect GTN to turn into a multi-bagger.
Our Take On GTN's ROCE
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. We expect this has contributed to the stock plummeting 82% during the last five years. With underlying trends that aren't great in these areas, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
If you want to continue researching GTN, you might be interested to know about the 2 warning signs that our analysis has discovered.
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.
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