If you're looking for a multi-bagger, there's a few things to keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base 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. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in Imperial Oil's (TSE:IMO) returns on capital, so let's have a look.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?
For those who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. To calculate this metric for Imperial Oil, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.24 = CA$8.2b ÷ (CA$43b - CA$8.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).
Thus, Imperial Oil has an ROCE of 24%. On its own, that's a very good return and it's on par with the returns earned by companies in a similar industry.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Imperial Oil 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 Imperial Oil here for free.
So How Is Imperial Oil's ROCE Trending?
Imperial Oil's ROCE growth is quite impressive. Looking at the data, we can see that even though capital employed in the business has remained relatively flat, the ROCE generated has risen by 935% over the last five years. Basically the business is generating higher returns from the same amount of capital and that is proof that there are improvements in the company's efficiencies. On that front, things are looking good so it's worth exploring what management has said about growth plans going forward.
For the record though, there was a noticeable increase in the company's current liabilities over the period, so we would attribute some of the ROCE growth to that. Essentially the business now has suppliers or short-term creditors funding about 21% of its operations, which isn't ideal. It's worth keeping an eye on this because as the percentage of current liabilities to total assets increases, some aspects of risk also increase.
To sum it up, Imperial Oil is collecting higher returns from the same amount of capital, and that's impressive. And with the stock having performed exceptionally well over the last five years, these patterns are being accounted for by investors. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.
Imperial Oil does have some risks though, and we've spotted 1 warning sign for Imperial Oil that you might be interested in.
If you want to search for more stocks that have been earning high returns, check out this free list of stocks with solid balance sheets that are also earning high 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.
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