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Our Take On The Returns On Capital At Carter's (NYSE:CRI)

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  • CRI

If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, 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. Although, when we looked at Carter's (NYSE:CRI), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Carter's, this is the formula:

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

0.12 = US$300m ÷ (US$3.4b - US$793m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2021).

So, Carter's has an ROCE of 12%. In absolute terms, that's a pretty standard return but compared to the Luxury industry average it falls behind.

See our latest analysis for Carter's

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Carter's 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 Carter's.

So How Is Carter's' ROCE Trending?

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Carter's, we didn't gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 12% from 23% 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.

While on the subject, we noticed that the ratio of current liabilities to total assets has risen to 23%, which has impacted the ROCE. If current liabilities hadn't increased as much as they did, the ROCE could actually be even lower. While the ratio isn't currently too high, it's worth keeping an eye on this because if it gets particularly high, the business could then face some new elements of risk.

The Bottom Line On Carter's' ROCE

We're a bit apprehensive about Carter's because despite more capital being deployed in the business, returns on that capital and sales have both fallen. And, the stock has remained flat over the last five years, so investors don't seem too impressed either. With underlying trends that aren't great in these areas, we'd consider looking elsewhere.

On a final note, we've found 3 warning signs for Carter's 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.

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.

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