Standard Motor Products (NYSE:SMP) Will Be Hoping To Turn Its Returns On Capital Around

What trends should we look for it we want to identify stocks that can multiply in value over the long term? 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. 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 Standard Motor Products (NYSE:SMP) 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 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 Standard Motor Products:

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

0.15 = US$138m ÷ (US$1.3b - US$323m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2022).

Therefore, Standard Motor Products has an ROCE of 15%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 12% generated by the Auto Components industry.

Check out our latest analysis for Standard Motor Products

roce
roce

In the above chart we have measured Standard Motor Products' 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?

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Standard Motor Products, we didn't gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 15% from 21% five years ago. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.

On a related note, Standard Motor Products has decreased its current liabilities to 26% of total assets. That could partly explain why the ROCE has dropped. Effectively this means their suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of the business, which reduces some elements of risk. Since the business is basically funding more of its operations with it's own money, you could argue this has made the business less efficient at generating ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Standard Motor Products' ROCE

Bringing it all together, while we're somewhat encouraged by Standard Motor Products' reinvestment in its own business, we're aware that returns are shrinking. Since the stock has declined 17% over the last five years, investors may not be too optimistic on this trend improving either. In any case, the stock doesn't have these traits of a multi-bagger discussed above, so if that's what you're looking for, we think you'd have more luck elsewhere.

On a final note, we've found 3 warning signs for Standard Motor Products that we think you should be aware of.

While Standard Motor Products 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.

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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