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 Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) 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. To calculate this metric for Medtronic, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.083 = US$6.9b ÷ (US$92b - US$8.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2022).
Therefore, Medtronic has an ROCE of 8.3%. On its own, that's a low figure but it's around the 8.7% average generated by the Medical Equipment industry.
In the above chart we have measured Medtronic'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.
So How Is Medtronic's ROCE Trending?
Over the past five years, Medtronic's ROCE and capital employed have both remained mostly flat. Businesses with these traits tend to be mature and steady operations because they're past the growth phase. With that in mind, unless investment picks up again in the future, we wouldn't expect Medtronic to be a multi-bagger going forward. This probably explains why Medtronic is paying out 45% of its income to shareholders in the form of dividends. Unless businesses have highly compelling growth opportunities, they'll typically return some money to shareholders.
Our Take On Medtronic's ROCE
We can conclude that in regards to Medtronic's returns on capital employed and the trends, there isn't much change to report on. Unsurprisingly, the stock has only gained 38% over the last five years, which potentially indicates that investors are accounting for this going forward. So if you're looking for a multi-bagger, the underlying trends indicate you may have better chances elsewhere.
One more thing to note, we've identified 1 warning sign with Medtronic and understanding it should be part of your investment process.
While Medtronic isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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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.