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If we want to find a stock that could multiply over the long term, what are the underlying trends we should look for? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing 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. With that in mind, the ROCE of Ingles Markets (NASDAQ:IMKT.A) looks great, so lets see what the trend can tell us.
What is 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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Ingles Markets:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.21 = US$342m ÷ (US$1.9b - US$294m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2021).
Therefore, Ingles Markets has an ROCE of 21%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 9.5% earned by companies in a similar industry.
While the past is not representative of the future, it can be helpful to know how a company has performed historically, which is why we have this chart above. If you'd like to look at how Ingles Markets has performed in the past in other metrics, you can view this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
So How Is Ingles Markets' ROCE Trending?
Ingles Markets has not disappointed with their ROCE growth. The figures show that over the last five years, ROCE has grown 132% whilst employing roughly the same amount of capital. So our take on this is that the business has increased efficiencies to generate these higher returns, all the while not needing to make any additional investments. On that front, things are looking good so it's worth exploring what management has said about growth plans going forward.
The Bottom Line
As discussed above, Ingles Markets appears to be getting more proficient at generating returns since capital employed has remained flat but earnings (before interest and tax) are up. Since the stock has returned a solid 82% to shareholders over the last five years, it's fair to say investors are beginning to recognize these changes. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.
One more thing, we've spotted 2 warning signs facing Ingles Markets that you might find interesting.
Ingles Markets is not the only stock earning high returns. If you'd like to see more, check out our free list of companies earning high returns on equity with solid fundamentals.
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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