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. One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing amount 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. And in light of that, the trends we're seeing at W.W. Grainger's (NYSE:GWW) look very promising so lets take a look.
Understanding 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. The formula for this calculation on W.W. Grainger is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.40 = US$2.4b ÷ (US$7.8b - US$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2023).
Thus, W.W. Grainger has an ROCE of 40%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Trade Distributors industry average of 14%.
In the above chart we have measured W.W. Grainger'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 W.W. Grainger.
What Does the ROCE Trend For W.W. Grainger Tell Us?
We like the trends that we're seeing from W.W. Grainger. Over the last five years, returns on capital employed have risen substantially to 40%. 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 34%. So we're very much inspired by what we're seeing at W.W. Grainger thanks to its ability to profitably reinvest capital.
All in all, it's terrific to see that W.W. Grainger is reaping the rewards from prior investments and is growing its capital base. And a remarkable 132% total return over the last five years tells us that investors are expecting more good things to come in the future. So given the stock has proven it has promising trends, it's worth researching the company further to see if these trends are likely to persist.
Like most companies, W.W. Grainger does come with some risks, and we've found 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
If you want to search for more stocks that have been earning high returns, check out this free list of stocks with solid balance sheets that are also earning high returns on equity.
Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.
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.
Join A Paid User Research Session
You’ll receive a US$30 Amazon Gift card for 1 hour of your time while helping us build better investing tools for the individual investors like yourself. Sign up here