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Returns On Capital At Smart Metering Systems (LON:SMS) Paint A Concerning Picture

If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. However, after investigating Smart Metering Systems (LON:SMS), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?

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 Smart Metering Systems is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.05 = UK£34m ÷ (UK£765m - UK£85m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).

So, Smart Metering Systems has an ROCE of 5.0%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Commercial Services industry average of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Smart Metering Systems

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In the above chart we have measured Smart Metering Systems' prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Smart Metering Systems.

What Can We Tell From Smart Metering Systems' ROCE Trend?

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Smart Metering Systems, we didn't gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 5.0% from 6.4% five years ago. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

The Key Takeaway

While returns have fallen for Smart Metering Systems in recent times, we're encouraged to see that sales are growing and that the business is reinvesting in its operations. And the stock has followed suit returning a meaningful 42% to shareholders over the last five years. So while investors seem to be recognizing these promising trends, we would look further into this stock to make sure the other metrics justify the positive view.

Smart Metering Systems does have some risks, we noticed 2 warning signs (and 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) we think you should know about.

If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive returns on equity.

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.