There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. 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. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. Although, when we looked at Autohome (NYSE:ATHM), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
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 Autohome is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.048 = CN¥1.3b ÷ (CN¥31b - CN¥4.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2023).
So, Autohome has an ROCE of 4.8%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Interactive Media and Services industry average of 9.7%.
See our latest analysis for Autohome
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Autohome 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 Autohome here for free.
What Does the ROCE Trend For Autohome Tell Us?
In terms of Autohome's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 4.8% from 25% five years ago. However it looks like Autohome 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 may take some time before the company starts to see any change in earnings from these investments.
On a side note, Autohome has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 13% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Since the business is basically funding more of its operations with it's own money, you could argue this has made the business less efficient at generating ROCE.
To conclude, we've found that Autohome is reinvesting in the business, but returns have been falling. Since the stock has declined 68% over the last five years, investors may not be too optimistic on this trend improving either. Therefore based on the analysis done in this article, we don't think Autohome has the makings of a multi-bagger.
On a separate note, we've found 1 warning sign for Autohome you'll probably want to know about.
While Autohome 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.