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Investors Could Be Concerned With Adbri's (ASX:ABC) Returns On Capital

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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. Firstly, we'll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. In light of that, when we looked at Adbri (ASX:ABC) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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. To calculate this metric for Adbri, this is the formula:

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

0.063 = AU$130m ÷ (AU$2.3b - AU$230m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

So, Adbri has an ROCE of 6.3%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Basic Materials industry average of 8.0%.

See our latest analysis for Adbri

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Adbri 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 Adbri here for free.

The Trend Of ROCE

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Adbri, we didn't gain much confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 14%, but since then they've fallen to 6.3%. 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's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.

Our Take On Adbri's ROCE

In summary, Adbri is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. Since the stock has declined 50% 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.

Adbri does have some risks though, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Adbri that you might be interested in.

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.

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