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If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing 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. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in Franklin Electric's (NASDAQ:FELE) returns on capital, so let's have a look.
What is 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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Franklin Electric:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.15 = US$175m ÷ (US$1.5b - US$401m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).
Thus, Franklin Electric has an ROCE of 15%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Machinery industry average of 10% it's much better.
In the above chart we have measured Franklin Electric's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Franklin Electric.
How Are Returns Trending?
We like the trends that we're seeing from Franklin Electric. The numbers show that in the last five years, the returns generated on capital employed have grown considerably to 15%. The company is effectively making more money per dollar of capital used, and it's worth noting that the amount of capital has increased too, by 29%. The increasing returns on a growing amount of capital is common amongst multi-baggers and that's why we're impressed.
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. Effectively this means that suppliers or short-term creditors are now funding 26% of the business, which is more than it was five years ago. 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.
The Bottom Line
All in all, it's terrific to see that Franklin Electric is reaping the rewards from prior investments and is growing its capital base. 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.
On a final note, we've found 1 warning sign for Franklin Electric that we think you should be aware of.
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.
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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.