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What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? 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. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. Although, when we looked at Wendy's (NASDAQ:WEN), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
For those who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. The formula for this calculation on Wendy's is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.055 = US$251m ÷ (US$5.0b - US$360m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).
Thus, Wendy's has an ROCE of 5.5%. On its own that's a low return on capital but it's in line with the industry's average returns of 4.6%.
In the above chart we have measured Wendy'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.
How Are Returns Trending?
In terms of Wendy's' historical ROCE trend, it doesn't exactly demand attention. The company has consistently earned 5.5% for the last five years, and the capital employed within the business has risen 22% in that time. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.
Our Take On Wendy's' ROCE
In conclusion, Wendy's has been investing more capital into the business, but returns on that capital haven't increased. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 140% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. Ultimately, if the underlying trends persist, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger going forward.
If you'd like to know about the risks facing Wendy's, we've discovered 1 warning sign that you should be aware of.
If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive returns on equity.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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