To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in Plexure Group's (NZSE:PLX) returns on capital, so let's have a look.
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. To calculate this metric for Plexure Group, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.014 = NZ$229k ÷ (NZ$26m - NZ$9.1m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020).
Thus, Plexure Group has an ROCE of 1.4%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Software industry average of 11%.
While the past is not representative of the future, it can be helpful to know how a company has performed historically, which is why we have this chart above. If you'd like to look at how Plexure Group has performed in the past in other metrics, you can view this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
So How Is Plexure Group's ROCE Trending?
The fact that Plexure Group is now generating some pre-tax profits from its prior investments is very encouraging. About five years ago the company was generating losses but things have turned around because it's now earning 1.4% on its capital. And unsurprisingly, like most companies trying to break into the black, Plexure Group is utilizing 237% more capital than it was five years ago. This can indicate that there's plenty of opportunities to invest capital internally and at ever higher rates, both common traits of a multi-bagger.
On a side note, we noticed that the improvement in ROCE appears to be partly fueled by an increase in current liabilities. Effectively this means that suppliers or short-term creditors are now funding 35% of the business, which is more than it was five years ago. It's worth keeping an eye on this because as the percentage of current liabilities to total assets increases, some aspects of risk also increase.
Our Take On Plexure Group's ROCE
Long story short, we're delighted to see that Plexure Group's reinvestment activities have paid off and the company is now profitable. And a remarkable 356% 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.
One more thing to note, we've identified 1 warning sign with Plexure Group and understanding this 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.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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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