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Should You Be Impressed By Carriage Services' (NYSE:CSV) Returns on Capital?

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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. However, after investigating Carriage Services (NYSE:CSV), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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 Carriage Services, this is the formula:

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

0.065 = US$69m ÷ (US$1.1b - US$48m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

So, Carriage Services has an ROCE of 6.5%. In absolute terms, that's a low return but it's around the Consumer Services industry average of 7.4%.

See our latest analysis for Carriage Services

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Carriage Services 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.

So How Is Carriage Services' ROCE Trending?

In terms of Carriage Services' historical ROCE trend, it doesn't exactly demand attention. Over the past five years, ROCE has remained relatively flat at around 6.5% and the business has deployed 37% more capital into its operations. Given the company has increased the amount of capital employed, it appears the investments that have been made simply don't provide a high return on capital.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, Carriage Services has been investing more capital into the business, but returns on that capital haven't increased. Although the market must be expecting these trends to improve because the stock has gained 47% over the last five years. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.

On a final note, we found 3 warning signs for Carriage Services (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable) you should be aware of.

While Carriage Services may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.

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.

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