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Returns on Capital Paint A Bright Future For Wolters Kluwer (AMS:WKL)

What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, 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. And in light of that, the trends we're seeing at Wolters Kluwer's (AMS:WKL) look very promising so lets take a look.

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 Wolters Kluwer, this is the formula:

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

0.23 = €1.3b ÷ (€9.5b - €3.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).

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So, Wolters Kluwer has an ROCE of 23%. In absolute terms that's a great return and it's even better than the Professional Services industry average of 16%.

View our latest analysis for Wolters Kluwer

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Wolters Kluwer compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

Wolters Kluwer's ROCE growth is quite impressive. More specifically, while the company has kept capital employed relatively flat over the last five years, the ROCE has climbed 42% in that same time. So our take on this is that the business has increased efficiencies to generate these higher returns, all the while not needing to make any additional investments. It's worth looking deeper into this though because while it's great that the business is more efficient, it might also mean that going forward the areas to invest internally for the organic growth are lacking.

On a separate but related note, it's important to know that Wolters Kluwer has a current liabilities to total assets ratio of 41%, which we'd consider pretty high. 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. Ideally we'd like to see this reduce as that would mean fewer obligations bearing risks.

The Bottom Line On Wolters Kluwer's ROCE

In summary, we're delighted to see that Wolters Kluwer has been able to increase efficiencies and earn higher rates of return on the same amount of capital. And a remarkable 154% total return over the last five years tells us that investors are expecting more good things to come in the future. So given the stock has proven it has promising trends, it's worth researching the company further to see if these trends are likely to persist.

One more thing to note, we've identified 1 warning sign with Wolters Kluwer and understanding it should be part of your investment process.

High returns are a key ingredient to strong performance, so check out our free list ofstocks earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.

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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