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What financial metrics can indicate to us that a company is maturing or even in decline? When we see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) in conjunction with a declining base of capital employed, that's often how a mature business shows signs of aging. This indicates the company is producing less profit from its investments and its total assets are decreasing. And from a first read, things don't look too good at Centamin (LON:CEY), so let's see why.
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. The formula for this calculation on Centamin is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.11 = US$148m ÷ (US$1.4b - US$81m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).
Therefore, Centamin has an ROCE of 11%. In isolation, that's a pretty standard return but against the Metals and Mining industry average of 15%, it's not as good.
In the above chart we have measured Centamin's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Centamin here for free.
How Are Returns Trending?
We are a bit worried about the trend of returns on capital at Centamin. To be more specific, the ROCE was 19% five years ago, but since then it has dropped noticeably. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. This combination can be indicative of a mature business that still has areas to deploy capital, but the returns received aren't as high due potentially to new competition or smaller margins. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Centamin to turn into a multi-bagger.
The Bottom Line On Centamin's ROCE
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. Investors haven't taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 34% from where it was five years ago. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
One final note, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with Centamin (including 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) .
While Centamin isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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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.