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Some Investors May Be Worried About Starbucks' (NASDAQ:SBUX) Returns On Capital

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. Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing 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 looked at Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), they do have a high ROCE, but we weren't exactly elated from how returns are trending.

What Is 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 Starbucks:

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

0.24 = US$4.4b ÷ (US$28b - US$9.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2022).

Therefore, Starbucks has an ROCE of 24%. That's a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 11% earned by companies in a similar industry.

View our latest analysis for Starbucks


In the above chart we have measured Starbucks' prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like, you can check out the forecasts from the analysts covering Starbucks here for free.

The Trend Of ROCE

In terms of Starbucks' historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. To be more specific, while the ROCE is still high, it's fallen from 38% where it was 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. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

Our Take On Starbucks' ROCE

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Starbucks is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. And the stock has followed suit returning a meaningful 90% to shareholders over the last five years. So should these growth trends continue, we'd be optimistic on the stock going forward.

If you want to know some of the risks facing Starbucks we've found 4 warning signs (2 are a bit concerning!) that you should be aware of before investing here.

Starbucks is not the only stock earning high returns. If you'd like to see more, check out our free list of companies earning high returns on equity with solid fundamentals.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at)

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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