Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. Firstly, we’d want to identify a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and then alongside that, an ever-increasing base 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. Having said that, from a first glance at Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD) we aren’t jumping out of our chairs at how returns are trending, but let’s have a deeper look.
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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Trade Desk:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
0.16 = US$257m ÷ (US$3.0b – US$1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2021).
Thus, Trade Desk has an ROCE of 16%. On its own, that’s a standard return, however it’s much better than the 11% generated by the Software industry.
Above you can see how the current ROCE for Trade Desk compares to its prior returns on capital, but there’s only so much you can tell from the past. 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 Trade Desk doesn’t inspire confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 16% from 26% five years ago. Although, given both revenue and the amount of assets employed in the business have increased, it could suggest the company is investing in growth, and the extra capital has led to a short-term reduction in ROCE. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.
On a separate but related note, it’s important to know that Trade Desk has a current liabilities to total assets ratio of 48%, which we’d consider pretty high. This can bring about some risks because the company is basically operating with a rather large reliance on its suppliers or other sorts of short-term creditors. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.
The Bottom Line
While returns have fallen for Trade Desk in recent times, we’re encouraged to see that sales are growing and that the business is reinvesting in its operations. And the stock has done incredibly well with a 3,371% return over the last five years, so long term investors are no doubt ecstatic with that result. So while the underlying trends could already be accounted for by investors, we still think this stock is worth looking into further.
On a separate note, we’ve found 3 warning signs for Trade Desk you’ll probably want to know about.
For those who like to invest in solid companies, check out this free list of companies with solid balance sheets and high 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.