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Why The 48% Return On Capital At Lowe's Companies (NYSE:LOW) Should Have Your Attention

To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? 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. This shows us that it's a compounding machine, able to continually reinvest its earnings back into the business and generate higher returns. And in light of that, the trends we're seeing at Lowe's Companies' (NYSE:LOW) look very promising so lets take a look.

What Is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. To calculate this metric for Lowe's Companies, this is the formula:

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

0.48 = US$13b ÷ (US$47b - US$21b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2022).

So, Lowe's Companies has an ROCE of 48%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 18% earned by companies in a similar industry.

See our latest analysis for Lowe's Companies

roce
roce

Above you can see how the current ROCE for Lowe's Companies 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

Lowe's Companies is showing promise given that its ROCE is trending up and to the right. Looking at the data, we can see that even though capital employed in the business has remained relatively flat, the ROCE generated has risen by 69% over the last five years. 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. On that front, things are looking good so it's worth exploring what management has said about growth plans going forward.

On a separate but related note, it's important to know that Lowe's Companies has a current liabilities to total assets ratio of 44%, which we'd consider pretty high. This effectively means that suppliers (or short-term creditors) are funding a large portion of the business, so just be aware that this can introduce some elements of risk. While it's not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.

The Bottom Line On Lowe's Companies' ROCE

In summary, we're delighted to see that Lowe's Companies has been able to increase efficiencies and earn higher rates of return on the same amount of capital. And a remarkable 174% total return over the last five years tells us that investors are expecting more good things to come in the future. With that being said, we still think the promising fundamentals mean the company deserves some further due diligence.

If you'd like to know more about Lowe's Companies, we've spotted 2 warning signs, and 1 of them doesn't sit too well with us.

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.

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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