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The Returns On Capital At REV Group (NYSE:REVG) Don't Inspire Confidence

What financial metrics can indicate to us that a company is maturing or even in decline? More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This indicates to us that the business is not only shrinking the size of its net assets, but its returns are falling as well. So after glancing at the trends within REV Group (NYSE:REVG), we weren't too hopeful.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. The formula for this calculation on REV Group is:

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

0.055 = US$42m ÷ (US$1.3b - US$575m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2022).

Therefore, REV Group has an ROCE of 5.5%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Machinery industry average of 11%.

View our latest analysis for REV Group

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In the above chart we have measured REV Group's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

We are a bit worried about the trend of returns on capital at REV Group. About five years ago, returns on capital were 8.2%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on REV Group becoming one if things continue as they have.

While on the subject, we noticed that the ratio of current liabilities to total assets has risen to 43%, which has impacted the ROCE. If current liabilities hadn't increased as much as they did, the ROCE could actually be even lower. What this means is that in reality, a rather large portion of the business is being funded by the likes of the company's suppliers or short-term creditors, which can bring some risks of its own.

The Bottom Line

All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. Investors haven't taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 47% from where it was five years ago. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.

If you want to know some of the risks facing REV Group we've found 3 warning signs (1 makes us a bit uncomfortable!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

While REV Group isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

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.

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