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. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in SMA Solar Technology's (ETR:S92) returns on capital, so let's have a look.
What Is 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. The formula for this calculation on SMA Solar Technology is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.15 = €127m ÷ (€1.4b - €599m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
Thus, SMA Solar Technology has an ROCE of 15%. By itself that's a normal return on capital and it's in line with the industry's average returns of 15%.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for SMA Solar Technology 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.
What Does the ROCE Trend For SMA Solar Technology Tell Us?
SMA Solar Technology is showing promise given that its ROCE is trending up and to the right. More specifically, while the company has kept capital employed relatively flat over the last five years, the ROCE has climbed 116% in that same time. So it's likely that the business is now reaping the full benefits of its past investments, since the capital employed hasn't changed considerably. On that front, things are looking good so it's worth exploring what management has said about growth plans going forward.
For the record though, there was a noticeable increase in the company's current liabilities over the period, so we would attribute some of the ROCE growth to that. Essentially the business now has suppliers or short-term creditors funding about 42% of its operations, which isn't ideal. Given it's pretty high ratio, we'd remind investors that having current liabilities at those levels can bring about some risks in certain businesses.
The Key Takeaway
To sum it up, SMA Solar Technology is collecting higher returns from the same amount of capital, and that's impressive. And with the stock having performed exceptionally well over the last five years, these patterns are being accounted for by investors. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.
One final note, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with SMA Solar Technology (including 1 which shouldn't be ignored) .
While SMA Solar Technology isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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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.