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The Returns On Capital At Vipshop Holdings (NYSE:VIPS) Don't Inspire Confidence

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If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. However, after investigating Vipshop Holdings (NYSE:VIPS), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

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 Vipshop Holdings, this is the formula:

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

0.20 = CN¥6.7b ÷ (CN¥58b - CN¥24b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

So, Vipshop Holdings has an ROCE of 20%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 13% generated by the Online Retail industry.

View our latest analysis for Vipshop Holdings

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Vipshop Holdings compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Vipshop Holdings here for free.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Vipshop Holdings Tell Us?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Vipshop Holdings doesn't inspire confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 20% from 27% five years ago. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

On a related note, Vipshop Holdings has decreased its current liabilities to 41% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. 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. Either way, they're still at a pretty high level, so we'd like to see them fall further if possible.

In Conclusion...

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Vipshop Holdings is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. In light of this, the stock has only gained 14% over the last five years. So this stock may still be an appealing investment opportunity, if other fundamentals prove to be sound.

On a separate note, we've found 1 warning sign for Vipshop Holdings you'll probably want to know about.

While Vipshop Holdings 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.

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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