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Here's What To Make Of Intuitive Surgical's (NASDAQ:ISRG) Decelerating Rates Of Return

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There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. 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. So, when we ran our eye over Intuitive Surgical's (NASDAQ:ISRG) trend of ROCE, we liked what we saw.

Understanding 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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Intuitive Surgical:

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

0.15 = US$1.8b ÷ (US$13b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).

So, Intuitive Surgical has an ROCE of 15%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Medical Equipment industry average of 8.4% it's much better.

View our latest analysis for Intuitive Surgical

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In the above chart we have measured Intuitive Surgical's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Intuitive Surgical.

So How Is Intuitive Surgical's ROCE Trending?

While the current returns on capital are decent, they haven't changed much. The company has employed 111% more capital in the last five years, and the returns on that capital have remained stable at 15%. Since 15% is a moderate ROCE though, it's good to see a business can continue to reinvest at these decent rates of return. Over long periods of time, returns like these might not be too exciting, but with consistency they can pay off in terms of share price returns.

The Bottom Line

The main thing to remember is that Intuitive Surgical has proven its ability to continually reinvest at respectable rates of return. On top of that, the stock has rewarded shareholders with a remarkable 370% return to those who've held over the last five years. So even though the stock might be more "expensive" than it was before, we think the strong fundamentals warrant this stock for further research.

Intuitive Surgical could be trading at an attractive price in other respects, so you might find our free intrinsic value estimation on our platform quite valuable.

While Intuitive Surgical may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.

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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