If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. 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. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. With that in mind, the ROCE of Saia (NASDAQ:SAIA) looks great, so lets see what the trend can tell us.
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 Saia, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.21 = US$440m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$267m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
Therefore, Saia has an ROCE of 21%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Transportation industry average of 12%.
In the above chart we have measured Saia'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 Does the ROCE Trend For Saia Tell Us?
Investors would be pleased with what's happening at Saia. Over the last five years, returns on capital employed have risen substantially to 21%. Basically the business is earning more per dollar of capital invested and in addition to that, 135% more capital is being employed now too. This can indicate that there's plenty of opportunities to invest capital internally and at ever higher rates, a combination that's common among multi-baggers.
Our Take On Saia's ROCE
In summary, it's great to see that Saia can compound returns by consistently reinvesting capital at increasing rates of return, because these are some of the key ingredients of those highly sought after multi-baggers. And with the stock having performed exceptionally well over the last five years, these patterns are being accounted for by investors. In light of that, we think it's worth looking further into this stock because if Saia can keep these trends up, it could have a bright future ahead.
Like most companies, Saia does come with some risks, and we've found 1 warning sign 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.