What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. And in light of that, the trends we're seeing at Lowe's Companies' (NYSE:LOW) look very promising so lets take a look.
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. To calculate this metric for Lowe's Companies, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.46 = US$12b ÷ (US$46b - US$19b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to May 2023).
Thus, Lowe's Companies has an ROCE of 46%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 15% earned by companies in a similar industry.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Lowe's Companies 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.
How Are Returns Trending?
Lowe's Companies' ROCE growth is quite impressive. More specifically, while the company has kept capital employed relatively flat over the last five years, the ROCE has climbed 58% in that same time. So it's likely that the business is now reaping the full benefits of its past investments, since the capital employed hasn't changed considerably. It's worth looking deeper into this though because while it's great that the business is more efficient, it might also mean that going forward the areas to invest internally for the organic growth are lacking.
On a side note, Lowe's Companies' current liabilities are still rather high at 42% 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. Ideally we'd like to see this reduce as that would mean fewer obligations bearing risks.
In summary, we're delighted to see that Lowe's Companies has been able to increase efficiencies and earn higher rates of return on the same amount of capital. And a remarkable 136% total return over the last five years tells us that investors are expecting more good things to come in the future. With that being said, we still think the promising fundamentals mean the company deserves some further due diligence.
Since virtually every company faces some risks, it's worth knowing what they are, and we've spotted 3 warning signs for Lowe's Companies (of which 1 doesn't sit too well with us!) that you should know about.
If you'd like to see other companies earning high returns, check out our free list of companies earning high returns with solid balance sheets here.
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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