When it comes to investing, there are some useful financial metrics that can warn us when a business is potentially in trouble. More often than not, we’ll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. Ultimately this means that the company is earning less per dollar invested and on top of that, it’s shrinking its base of capital employed. Having said that, after a brief look, Serial System (SGX:S69) we aren’t filled with optimism, but let’s investigate further.
Understanding 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 Serial System, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
0.054 = US$8.6m ÷ (US$458m – US$300m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).
Therefore, Serial System has an ROCE of 5.4%. Ultimately, that’s a low return and it under-performs the Electronic industry average of 15%.
See our latest analysis for Serial System
Historical performance is a great place to start when researching a stock so above you can see the gauge for Serial System’s ROCE against it’s prior returns. If you’d like to look at how Serial System has performed in the past in other metrics, you can view this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
What Can We Tell From Serial System’s ROCE Trend?
We are a bit worried about the trend of returns on capital at Serial System. About five years ago, returns on capital were 15%, however they’re now substantially lower than that as we saw above. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. 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. So because these trends aren’t typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn’t hold our breath on Serial System becoming one if things continue as they have.
On a side note, Serial System’s current liabilities are still rather high at 66% 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. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.
The Bottom Line
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren’t exactly signs of a compounding machine. Investors haven’t taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 24% from where it was five years ago. Unless there is a shift to a more positive trajectory in these metrics, we would look elsewhere.
Since virtually every company faces some risks, it’s worth knowing what they are, and we’ve spotted 3 warning signs for Serial System (of which 2 can’t be ignored!) that you should know about.
While Serial System may not currently earn the highest returns, we’ve compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.
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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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