If we're looking to avoid a business that is in decline, what are the trends that can warn us ahead of time? Typically, we'll see the trend of both return on capital employed (ROCE) declining and this usually coincides with a decreasing amount of capital employed. This combination can tell you that not only is the company investing less, it's earning less on what it does invest. So after glancing at the trends within LivaNova (NASDAQ:LIVN), we weren't too hopeful.
Understanding 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. To calculate this metric for LivaNova, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.021 = US$43m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$288m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
Thus, LivaNova has an ROCE of 2.1%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Medical Equipment industry average of 9.4%.
Check out our latest analysis for LivaNova
Above you can see how the current ROCE for LivaNova compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for LivaNova.
The Trend Of ROCE
In terms of LivaNova's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 4.9%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. Companies that exhibit these attributes tend to not be shrinking, but they can be mature and facing pressure on their margins from competition. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on LivaNova becoming one if things continue as they have.
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. Investors haven't taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 58% from where it was five years ago. Unless there is a shift to a more positive trajectory in these metrics, we would look elsewhere.
While LivaNova doesn't shine too bright in this respect, it's still worth seeing if the company is trading at attractive prices. You can find that out with our FREE intrinsic value estimation on our platform.
For those who like to invest in solid companies, check out this free list of companies with solid balance sheets and high 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.