What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. However, after investigating Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.
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. The formula for this calculation on Vulcan Materials is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.093 = US$1.3b ÷ (US$15b - US$864m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2023).
Therefore, Vulcan Materials has an ROCE of 9.3%. On its own, that's a low figure but it's around the 11% average generated by the Basic Materials industry.
Check out our latest analysis for Vulcan Materials
In the above chart we have measured Vulcan Materials' 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 Vulcan Materials.
The Trend Of ROCE
The returns on capital haven't changed much for Vulcan Materials in recent years. The company has employed 50% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 9.3%. Given the company has increased the amount of capital employed, it appears the investments that have been made simply don't provide a high return on capital.
In conclusion, Vulcan Materials has been investing more capital into the business, but returns on that capital haven't increased. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 120% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
One more thing to note, we've identified 2 warning signs with Vulcan Materials and understanding these should be part of your investment process.
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.