To find a multi-bagger stock, what are the underlying trends we should look for in a business? Typically, we'll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. If you see this, it typically means it's a company with a great business model and plenty of profitable reinvestment opportunities. However, after briefly looking over the numbers, we don't think Target (NYSE:TGT) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.
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. To calculate this metric for Target, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.12 = US$4.0b ÷ (US$53b - US$20b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2023).
Thus, Target has an ROCE of 12%. That's a relatively normal return on capital, and it's around the 11% generated by the Consumer Retailing industry.
In the above chart we have measured Target's 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 Target here for free.
How Are Returns Trending?
When we looked at the ROCE trend at Target, we didn't gain much confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 16% over the last five years. However it looks like Target might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company's sales haven't changed much in the last 12 months. It may take some time before the company starts to see any change in earnings from these investments.
In summary, Target is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. Yet to long term shareholders the stock has gifted them an incredible 149% return in the last five years, so the market appears to be rosy about its future. However, unless these underlying trends turn more positive, we wouldn't get our hopes up too high.
One more thing: We've identified 4 warning signs with Target (at least 1 which makes us a bit uncomfortable) , and understanding these would certainly be useful.
While Target 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.
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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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