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What Do The Returns On Capital At GATX (NYSE:GATX) Tell Us?

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If you're looking for a multi-bagger, there's a few things to keep an eye out for. Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base 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 briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think GATX (NYSE:GATX) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.

Understanding 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. To calculate this metric for GATX, this is the formula:

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

0.036 = US$305m ÷ (US$8.7b - US$161m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

Thus, GATX has an ROCE of 3.6%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Trade Distributors industry average of 8.1%.

Check out our latest analysis for GATX

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for GATX 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.

What Does the ROCE Trend For GATX Tell Us?

In terms of GATX's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 5.3%, but since then they've fallen to 3.6%. However, given capital employed and revenue have both increased it appears that the business is currently pursuing growth, at the consequence of short term returns. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.

What We Can Learn From GATX's ROCE

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that GATX is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. And the stock has followed suit returning a meaningful 99% to shareholders over the last five years. So while investors seem to be recognizing these promising trends, we would look further into this stock to make sure the other metrics justify the positive view.

If you'd like to know more about GATX, we've spotted 4 warning signs, and 2 of them are potentially serious.

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@simplywallst.com.