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. Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. However, after investigating China Railway Signal & Communication (HKG:3969), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for China Railway Signal & Communication:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities )
0.076 = CN¥3.8b ÷ (CN¥109b - CN¥58b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).
So, China Railway Signal & Communication has an ROCE of 7.6%. In absolute terms, that's a low return but it's around the Electronic industry average of 6.3%.
See our latest analysis for China Railway Signal & CommunicationSEHK:3969 Return on Capital Employed July 8th 2022
Above you can see how the current ROCE for China Railway Signal & Communication 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 China Railway Signal & Communication here for free.
So How Is China Railway Signal & Communication's ROCE Trending?
In terms of China Railway Signal & Communication's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 15% over the last five years. However it looks like China Railway Signal & Communication might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company's sales haven't changed much in the last 12 months. 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 side note, China Railway Signal & Communication's current liabilities are still rather high at 54% of total assets. This effectively means that suppliers (or short-term creditors) are funding a large portion of the business, so just be aware that this can introduce some elements of risk. Ideally we'd like to see this reduce as that would mean fewer obligations bearing risks.
What We Can Learn From China Railway Signal & Communication's ROCE
In summary, China Railway Signal & Communication is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. And in the last five years, the stock has given away 46% so the market doesn't look too hopeful on these trends strengthening any time soon. 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.
One more thing to note, we've identified 1 warning sign with China Railway Signal & Communication and understanding it should be part of your investment process.
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.
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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.