Did you know there are some financial metrics that can provide clues of a potential multi-bagger? In a perfect world, we'd like to see a company investing more capital into its business and ideally the returns earned from that capital are also increasing. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. Having said that, from a first glance at Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) we aren't jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let's have a deeper look.
Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?
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 Duke Energy:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.041 = US$6.7b ÷ (US$180b - US$17b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).
Therefore, Duke Energy has an ROCE of 4.1%. On its own that's a low return on capital but it's in line with the industry's average returns of 4.5%.
In the above chart we have measured Duke Energy's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
How Are Returns Trending?
There are better returns on capital out there than what we're seeing at Duke Energy. The company has employed 28% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 4.1%. This poor ROCE doesn't inspire confidence right now, and with the increase in capital employed, it's evident that the business isn't deploying the funds into high return investments.
The Bottom Line On Duke Energy's ROCE
Long story short, while Duke Energy has been reinvesting its capital, the returns that it's generating haven't increased. Since the stock has gained an impressive 43% over the last five years, investors must think there's better things to come. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
On a final note, we found 2 warning signs for Duke Energy (1 doesn't sit too well with us) you should be aware of.
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.
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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.