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There Are Reasons To Feel Uneasy About Colgate-Palmolive's (NYSE:CL) Returns On Capital

To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Firstly, we'd want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it's a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. So when we looked at Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), they do have a high ROCE, but we weren't exactly elated from how returns are trending.

What Is 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 Colgate-Palmolive, this is the formula:

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

0.32 = US$3.6b ÷ (US$16b - US$4.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).

Therefore, Colgate-Palmolive has an ROCE of 32%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 14% earned by companies in a similar industry.

Check out our latest analysis for Colgate-Palmolive

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Colgate-Palmolive 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 Colgate-Palmolive here for free.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Colgate-Palmolive, we didn't gain much confidence. While it's comforting that the ROCE is high, five years ago it was 45%. However it looks like Colgate-Palmolive might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company's sales haven't changed much in the last 12 months. 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.

The Bottom Line

In summary, Colgate-Palmolive is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. And investors may be recognizing these trends since the stock has only returned a total of 17% to shareholders over the last five years. As a result, if you're hunting for a multi-bagger, we think you'd have more luck elsewhere.

On a separate note, we've found 2 warning signs for Colgate-Palmolive you'll probably want to know about.

If you'd like to see other companies earning high returns, check out our free list of companies earning high returns with solid balance sheets here.

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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