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Returns On Capital Signal Tricky Times Ahead For Boston Beer Company (NYSE:SAM)

If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing amount of capital employed. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. In light of that, when we looked at Boston Beer Company (NYSE:SAM) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

What Is 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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Boston Beer Company:

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

0.055 = US$67m ÷ (US$1.5b - US$314m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

So, Boston Beer Company has an ROCE of 5.5%. In absolute terms, that's a low return and it also under-performs the Beverage industry average of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Boston Beer Company

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In the above chart we have measured Boston Beer Company's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Boston Beer Company here for free.

What Can We Tell From Boston Beer Company's ROCE Trend?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Boston Beer Company doesn't inspire confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 28% over the last five years. However it looks like Boston Beer Company 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.

In Conclusion...

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Boston Beer Company's reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 100% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.

Like most companies, Boston Beer Company does come with some risks, and we've found 3 warning signs that you should be aware of.

While Boston Beer Company isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are 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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