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The Returns On Capital At Lamb Weston Holdings (NYSE:LW) Don't Inspire Confidence

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There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. However, after briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think Lamb Weston Holdings (NYSE:LW) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.

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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Lamb Weston Holdings:

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

0.13 = US$472m ÷ (US$4.2b - US$590m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2021).

Thus, Lamb Weston Holdings has an ROCE of 13%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 8.4% generated by the Food industry.

See our latest analysis for Lamb Weston Holdings

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Lamb Weston Holdings 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.

How Are Returns Trending?

In terms of Lamb Weston Holdings' historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 13% from 24% 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.

The Key Takeaway

In summary, we're somewhat concerned by Lamb Weston Holdings' diminishing returns on increasing amounts of capital. However the stock has delivered a 28% return to shareholders over the last three years, so investors might be expecting the trends to turn around. In any case, the current underlying trends don't bode well for long term performance so unless they reverse, we'd start looking elsewhere.

If you'd like to know more about Lamb Weston Holdings, we've spotted 2 warning signs, and 1 of them is a bit unpleasant.

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. 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.