Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) Is Investing Its Capital With Increasing Efficiency

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There are a few key trends to look for if we want to identify the next multi-bagger. Typically, we’ll want to notice a trend of growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and alongside that, an expanding base of capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it’s a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. Speaking of which, we noticed some great changes in Illinois Tool Works’ (NYSE:ITW) returns on capital, so let’s have a look.

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. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Illinois Tool Works:

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

0.34 = US$3.7b ÷ (US$15b – US$4.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

Therefore, Illinois Tool Works has an ROCE of 34%. That’s a fantastic return and not only that, it outpaces the average of 11% earned by companies in a similar industry.

Check out our latest analysis for Illinois Tool Works

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Above you can see how the current ROCE for Illinois Tool Works 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.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Illinois Tool Works Tell Us?

Illinois Tool Works is showing promise given that its ROCE is trending up and to the right. Looking at the data, we can see that even though capital employed in the business has remained relatively flat, the ROCE generated has risen by 38% over the last five years. So our take on this is that the business has increased efficiencies to generate these higher returns, all the while not needing to make any additional investments. The company is doing well in that sense, and it’s worth investigating what the management team has planned for long term growth prospects.

For the record though, there was a noticeable increase in the company’s current liabilities over the period, so we would attribute some of the ROCE growth to that. Essentially the business now has suppliers or short-term creditors funding about 29% of its operations, which isn’t ideal. It’s worth keeping an eye on this because as the percentage of current liabilities to total assets increases, some aspects of risk also increase.

The Bottom Line

In summary, we’re delighted to see that Illinois Tool Works has been able to increase efficiencies and earn higher rates of return on the same amount of capital. And with a respectable 43% awarded to those who held the stock over the last five years, you could argue that these developments are starting to get the attention they deserve. Therefore, we think it would be worth your time to check if these trends are going to continue.

Illinois Tool Works does have some risks though, and we’ve spotted 1 warning sign for Illinois Tool Works that you might be interested in.

If you’d like to see other companies earning high returns, check out our free list of companies earning high returns with solid balance sheets 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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