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Some Investors May Be Worried About Argan's (NYSE:AGX) Returns On Capital

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If you're looking for a multi-bagger, there's a few things to keep an eye out for. 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. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. However, after investigating Argan (NYSE:AGX), we don't think it's current trends fit the mold of a multi-bagger.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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 Argan:

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

0.16 = US$54m ÷ (US$652m - US$307m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2021).

Therefore, Argan has an ROCE of 16%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 9.7% generated by the Construction industry.

Check out our latest analysis for Argan

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Argan compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Argan.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Argan, we didn't gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 16% from 36% five years ago. However, given capital employed and revenue have both increased it appears that the business is currently pursuing growth, at the consequence of short term returns. And if the increased capital generates additional returns, the business, and thus shareholders, will benefit in the long run.

Another thing to note, Argan has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 47%. 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. Ideally we'd like to see this reduce as that would mean fewer obligations bearing risks.

What We Can Learn From Argan's ROCE

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Argan is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. These trends don't appear to have influenced returns though, because the total return from the stock has been mostly flat over the last five years. As a result, we'd recommend researching this stock further to uncover what other fundamentals of the business can show us.

If you'd like to know about the risks facing Argan, we've discovered 2 warning signs that you should be aware of.

While Argan 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.

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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