George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad (KLSE:GKENT) Could Be Struggling To Allocate Capital

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. Although, when we looked at George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad (KLSE:GKENT), it didn't seem to tick all of these boxes.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What Is It?

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 George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad, this is the formula:

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

0.12 = RM81m ÷ (RM865m - RM182m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

Thus, George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad has an ROCE of 12%. In absolute terms, that's a satisfactory return, but compared to the Construction industry average of 5.3% it's much better.

View our latest analysis for George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad

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Historical performance is a great place to start when researching a stock so above you can see the gauge for George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad's ROCE against it's prior returns. If you're interested in investigating George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad's past further, check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Are Returns Trending?

In terms of George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad's historical ROCE movements, the trend isn't fantastic. Around five years ago the returns on capital were 38%, but since then they've fallen to 12%. However, given capital employed and revenue have both increased it appears that the business is currently pursuing growth, at the consequence of short term returns. If these investments prove successful, this can bode very well for long term stock performance.

On a side note, George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 21% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. What's more, this can reduce some aspects of risk to the business because now the company's suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of its operations. Some would claim this reduces the business' efficiency at generating ROCE since it is now funding more of the operations with its own money.

What We Can Learn From George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad's ROCE

Even though returns on capital have fallen in the short term, we find it promising that revenue and capital employed have both increased for George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad. Despite these promising trends, the stock has collapsed 80% over the last five years, so there could be other factors hurting the company's prospects. Regardless, reinvestment can pay off in the long run, so we think astute investors may want to look further into this stock.

One more thing: We've identified 3 warning signs with George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad (at least 1 which is concerning) , and understanding these 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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