What financial metrics can indicate to us that a company is maturing or even in decline? More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This reveals that the company isn't compounding shareholder wealth because returns are falling and its net asset base is shrinking. On that note, looking into Stamford Land (SGX:H07), we weren't too upbeat about how things were going.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
For those who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. The formula for this calculation on Stamford Land is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.053 = S$46m ÷ (S$1.2b - S$362m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).
Therefore, Stamford Land has an ROCE of 5.3%. On its own that's a low return, but compared to the average of 1.2% generated by the Hospitality industry, it's much better.
See our latest analysis for Stamford Land
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 Stamford Land has performed in the past in other metrics, you can view this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
So How Is Stamford Land's ROCE Trending?
There is reason to be cautious about Stamford Land, given the returns are trending downwards. Unfortunately the returns on capital have diminished from the 8.4% that they were earning five years ago. On top of that, it's worth noting that the amount of capital employed within the business has remained relatively steady. 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 Stamford Land to turn into a multi-bagger.
On a side note, Stamford Land's current liabilities have increased over the last five years to 30% of total assets, effectively distorting the ROCE to some degree. Without this increase, it's likely that ROCE would be even lower than 5.3%. Keep an eye on this ratio, because the business could encounter some new risks if this metric gets too high.
The Bottom Line
In the end, the trend of lower returns on the same amount of capital isn't typically an indication that we're looking at a growth stock. And, the stock has remained flat over the last five years, so investors don't seem too impressed either. Unless there is a shift to a more positive trajectory in these metrics, we would look elsewhere.
If you'd like to know about the risks facing Stamford Land, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.
While Stamford Land 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.
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