What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount 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. In light of that, when we looked at Great Wall Motor (HKG:2333) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?
For those that aren't sure what ROCE is, it measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Great Wall Motor, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.05 = CN¥4.5b ÷ (CN¥191b - CN¥101b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2023).
So, Great Wall Motor has an ROCE of 5.0%. On its own, that's a low figure but it's around the 5.9% average generated by the Auto industry.
View our latest analysis for Great Wall Motor
In the above chart we have measured Great Wall Motor's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Great Wall Motor.
What Does the ROCE Trend For Great Wall Motor Tell Us?
In terms of Great Wall Motor's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 5.0% from 13% five years ago. However it looks like Great Wall Motor 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, Great Wall Motor's current liabilities are still rather high at 53% of total assets. This can bring about some risks because the company is basically operating with a rather large reliance on its suppliers or other sorts of short-term creditors. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.
What We Can Learn From Great Wall Motor's ROCE
To conclude, we've found that Great Wall Motor is reinvesting in the business, but returns have been falling. Investors must think there's better things to come because the stock has knocked it out of the park, delivering a 189% gain to shareholders who have held over the last five years. Ultimately, if the underlying trends persist, we wouldn't hold our breath on it being a multi-bagger going forward.
One more thing: We've identified 2 warning signs with Great Wall Motor (at least 1 which is a bit concerning) , and understanding them would certainly be useful.
While Great Wall Motor may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.
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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.