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Returns On Capital Signal Tricky Times Ahead For Fresnillo (LON:FRES)

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What are the early trends we should look for to identify a stock that could multiply in value over the long term? Amongst other things, we'll want to see two things; firstly, a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an expansion in the company's amount of capital employed. Put simply, these types of businesses are compounding machines, meaning they are continually reinvesting their earnings at ever-higher rates of return. Although, when we looked at Fresnillo (LON:FRES), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.

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. The formula for this calculation on Fresnillo is:

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

0.12 = US$655m ÷ (US$5.8b - US$469m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2021).

Therefore, Fresnillo has an ROCE of 12%. In absolute terms, that's a pretty standard return but compared to the Metals and Mining industry average it falls behind.

View our latest analysis for Fresnillo

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In the above chart we have measured Fresnillo's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you're interested, you can view the analysts predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Are Returns Trending?

On the surface, the trend of ROCE at Fresnillo doesn't inspire confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 19%, but since then they've fallen to 12%. 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.

The Bottom Line On Fresnillo's ROCE

In summary, despite lower returns in the short term, we're encouraged to see that Fresnillo is reinvesting for growth and has higher sales as a result. And there could be an opportunity here if other metrics look good too, because the stock has declined 50% in the last five years. So we think it'd be worthwhile to look further into this stock given the trends look encouraging.

On a final note, we've found 2 warning signs for Fresnillo that we think you should be aware of.

If you want to search for solid companies with great earnings, check out this free list of companies with good balance sheets and impressive 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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