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The Returns On Capital At Blue Bird (NASDAQ:BLBD) Don't Inspire Confidence

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If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. However, after investigating Blue Bird (NASDAQ:BLBD), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Blue Bird:

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

0.15 = US$28m ÷ (US$363m - US$172m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2021).

Therefore, Blue Bird has an ROCE of 15%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 9.5% generated by the Machinery industry.

View our latest analysis for Blue Bird

roce
roce

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Blue Bird compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Blue Bird.

The Trend Of ROCE

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Blue Bird doesn't inspire confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 15% from 40% five years ago. And considering revenue has dropped while employing more capital, we'd be cautious. This could mean that the business is losing its competitive advantage or market share, because while more money is being put into ventures, it's actually producing a lower return - "less bang for their buck" per se.

On a related note, Blue Bird has decreased its current liabilities to 47% of total assets. That could partly explain why the ROCE has dropped. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money. Keep in mind 47% is still pretty high, so those risks are still somewhat prevalent.

The Bottom Line

From the above analysis, we find it rather worrisome that returns on capital and sales for Blue Bird have fallen, meanwhile the business is employing more capital than it was five years ago. Investors must expect better things on the horizon though because the stock has risen 33% in the last five years. Either way, we aren't huge fans of the current trends and so with that we think you might find better investments elsewhere.

If you'd like to know more about Blue Bird, we've spotted 4 warning signs, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.

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. 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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