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Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing 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 Winpak (TSE:WPK), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?
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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Winpak:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.11 = US$135m ÷ (US$1.3b - US$80m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).
Therefore, Winpak has an ROCE of 11%. That's a relatively normal return on capital, and it's around the 14% generated by the Packaging industry.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Winpak 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 Winpak here for free.
What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us
When we looked at the ROCE trend at Winpak, we didn't gain much confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 21% over the last five years. 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 may take some time before the company starts to see any change in earnings from these investments.
The Key Takeaway
Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Winpak's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Since the stock has declined 13% over the last five years, investors may not be too optimistic on this trend improving either. All in all, the inherent trends aren't typical of multi-baggers, so if that's what you're after, we think you might have more luck elsewhere.
Winpak could be trading at an attractive price in other respects, so you might find our free intrinsic value estimation on our platform quite valuable.
While Winpak 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.