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Slowing Rates Of Return At Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC) Leave Little Room For Excitement

To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing amount 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. Having said that, from a first glance at Vulcan Materials (NYSE:VMC) 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 who don't know, ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Vulcan Materials:

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

0.077 = US$1.0b ÷ (US$14b - US$957m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).

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Thus, Vulcan Materials has an ROCE of 7.7%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Basic Materials industry average of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Vulcan Materials

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In the above chart we have measured Vulcan Materials' 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.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Vulcan Materials Tell Us?

In terms of Vulcan Materials' historical ROCE trend, it doesn't exactly demand attention. Over the past five years, ROCE has remained relatively flat at around 7.7% and the business has deployed 47% more capital into its operations. 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.

In Conclusion...

In conclusion, Vulcan Materials has been investing more capital into the business, but returns on that capital haven't increased. Since the stock has gained an impressive 62% over the last five years, investors must think there's better things to come. But if the trajectory of these underlying trends continue, we think the likelihood of it being a multi-bagger from here isn't high.

On a final note, we've found 2 warning signs for Vulcan Materials that we think you should be aware of.

For those who like to invest in solid companies, check out this free list of companies with solid balance sheets and high 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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