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Some Investors May Be Worried About IMI's (LON:IMI) Returns On Capital

What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, 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 briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think IMI (LON:IMI) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.

What Is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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 IMI is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.18 = UK£304m ÷ (UK£2.4b - UK£761m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

Thus, IMI has an ROCE of 18%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Machinery industry average of 11% it's much better.

Check out our latest analysis for IMI

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for IMI compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Can We Tell From IMI's ROCE Trend?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at IMI doesn't inspire confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 24%, but since then they've fallen to 18%. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. 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.

The Bottom Line

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by IMI's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Unsurprisingly, the stock has only gained 31% over the last five years, which potentially indicates that investors are accounting for this going forward. Therefore, if you're looking for a multi-bagger, we'd propose looking at other options.

One more thing, we've spotted 1 warning sign facing IMI that you might find interesting.

While IMI isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

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