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Why The 21% Return On Capital At Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) Should Have Your Attention

If you're not sure where to start when looking for the next multi-bagger, there are a few key trends you should keep an eye out for. One common approach is to try and find a company with returns on capital employed (ROCE) that are increasing, in conjunction with a growing amount 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 Autodesk's (NASDAQ:ADSK) 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. The formula for this calculation on Autodesk is:

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

0.21 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$9.2b - US$3.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2023).

So, Autodesk has an ROCE of 21%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 8.1% earned by companies in a similar industry.

See our latest analysis for Autodesk

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In the above chart we have measured Autodesk'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.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Autodesk Tell Us?

We're delighted to see that Autodesk is reaping rewards from its investments and is now generating some pre-tax profits. About five years ago the company was generating losses but things have turned around because it's now earning 21% on its capital. And unsurprisingly, like most companies trying to break into the black, Autodesk is utilizing 197% more capital than it was five years ago. This can indicate that there's plenty of opportunities to invest capital internally and at ever higher rates, both common traits of a multi-bagger.

One more thing to note, Autodesk has decreased current liabilities to 42% of total assets over this period, which effectively reduces the amount of funding from suppliers or short-term creditors. So this improvement in ROCE has come from the business' underlying economics, which is great to see. Nevertheless, there are some potential risks the company is bearing with current liabilities that high, so just keep that in mind.

The Key Takeaway

To the delight of most shareholders, Autodesk has now broken into profitability. And with a respectable 65% awarded to those who held the stock over the last five years, you could argue that these developments are starting to get the attention they deserve. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.

Before jumping to any conclusions though, we need to know what value we're getting for the current share price. That's where you can check out our FREE intrinsic value estimation that compares the share price and estimated value.

If you want to search for more stocks that have been earning high returns, check out this free list of stocks with solid balance sheets that are also earning high 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.