There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. 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. 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 Maximus (NYSE:MMS) has the makings of a multi-bagger going forward, but let's have a look at why that may be.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. To calculate this metric for Maximus, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)
0.098 = US$315m ÷ (US$4.0b - US$774m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).
So, Maximus has an ROCE of 9.8%. In absolute terms, that's a low return but it's around the IT industry average of 12%.
See our latest analysis for Maximus
In the above chart we have measured Maximus' 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 Maximus here for free.
How Are Returns Trending?
When we looked at the ROCE trend at Maximus, we didn't gain much confidence. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 30%, but since then they've fallen to 9.8%. However it looks like Maximus 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.
What We Can Learn From Maximus' ROCE
In summary, Maximus is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven't increased much just yet. And with the stock having returned a mere 19% in the last five years to shareholders, you could argue that they're aware of these lackluster trends. So if you're looking for a multi-bagger, the underlying trends indicate you may have better chances elsewhere.
One more thing: We've identified 3 warning signs with Maximus (at least 1 which doesn't sit too well with us) , and understanding them would certainly be useful.
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.
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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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