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Here's What's Concerning About Hubbell's (NYSE:HUBB) Returns On Capital

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There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. 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. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. In light of that, when we looked at Hubbell (NYSE:HUBB) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

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. The formula for this calculation on Hubbell is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.13 = US$547m ÷ (US$5.3b - US$1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).

Therefore, Hubbell has an ROCE of 13%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Electrical industry average of 9.0% it's much better.

View our latest analysis for Hubbell

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Hubbell compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Hubbell here for free.

So How Is Hubbell's ROCE Trending?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Hubbell doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 18% over the last five years. Meanwhile, the business is utilizing more capital but this hasn't moved the needle much in terms of sales in the past 12 months, so this could reflect longer term investments. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.

Our Take On Hubbell's ROCE

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Hubbell's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 104% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. But if the trajectory of these underlying trends continue, we think the likelihood of it being a multi-bagger from here isn't high.

One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing Hubbell that you might find interesting.

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.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.