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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. In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. In light of that, when we looked at United Malt Group (ASX:UMG) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for United Malt Group, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.037 = AU$59m ÷ (AU$1.9b - AU$359m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).
Therefore, United Malt Group has an ROCE of 3.7%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Food industry average of 6.6%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for United Malt Group 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.
The Trend Of ROCE
On the surface, the trend of ROCE at United Malt Group doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 9.4% over the last two years. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.
On a related note, United Malt Group has decreased its current liabilities to 19% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. Effectively this means their suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of the business, which reduces some elements of risk. Since the business is basically funding more of its operations with it's own money, you could argue this has made the business less efficient at generating ROCE.
Our Take On United Malt Group's ROCE
Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by United Malt Group's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Since the stock has declined 15% over the last year, investors may not be too optimistic on this trend improving either. On the whole, we aren't too inspired by the underlying trends and we think there may be better chances of finding a multi-bagger elsewhere.
On a final note, we've found 2 warning signs for United Malt Group that we think you should be aware of.
While United Malt Group may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.
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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.