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Some Investors May Be Worried About NetEase's (NASDAQ:NTES) Returns On Capital

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If we want to find a potential multi-bagger, often there are underlying trends that can provide clues. 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. In light of that, when we looked at NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

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. The formula for this calculation on NetEase is:

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

0.14 = CN¥14b ÷ (CN¥155b - CN¥54b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

Thus, NetEase has an ROCE of 14%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 11% generated by the Entertainment industry.

See our latest analysis for NetEase

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for NetEase 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

When we looked at the ROCE trend at NetEase, we didn't gain much confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 32%, but since then they've fallen to 14%. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

In Conclusion...

Even though returns on capital have fallen in the short term, we find it promising that revenue and capital employed have both increased for NetEase. And the stock has followed suit returning a meaningful 82% to shareholders over the last five years. So while investors seem to be recognizing these promising trends, we would look further into this stock to make sure the other metrics justify the positive view.

If you'd like to know about the risks facing NetEase, we've discovered 2 warning signs that 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.

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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