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These Return Metrics Don't Make Exela Technologies (NASDAQ:XELA) Look Too Strong

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·3 min read
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To avoid investing in a business that's in decline, there's a few financial metrics that can provide early indications of aging. More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. Basically the company is earning less on its investments and it is also reducing its total assets. So after we looked into Exela Technologies (NASDAQ:XELA), the trends above didn't look too great.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. The formula for this calculation on Exela Technologies is:

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

0.029 = US$21m ÷ (US$1.2b - US$474m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

Thus, Exela Technologies has an ROCE of 2.9%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the IT industry average of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Exela Technologies

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Exela Technologies 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 Exela Technologies here for free.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Exela Technologies Tell Us?

In terms of Exela Technologies' historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, the ROCE was 6.4% five years ago, but since then it has dropped noticeably. On top of that, it's worth noting that the amount of capital employed within the business has remained relatively steady. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Exela Technologies to turn into a multi-bagger.

While on the subject, we noticed that the ratio of current liabilities to total assets has risen to 40%, which has impacted the ROCE. If current liabilities hadn't increased as much as they did, the ROCE could actually be even lower. What this means is that in reality, a rather large portion of the business is being funded by the likes of the company's suppliers or short-term creditors, which can bring some risks of its own.

Our Take On Exela Technologies' 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. This could explain why the stock has sunk a total of 90% in the last three years. Unless there is a shift to a more positive trajectory in these metrics, we would look elsewhere.

On a final note, we found 3 warning signs for Exela Technologies (2 shouldn't be ignored) you should be aware of.

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.

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