February 7, 2023

If we're looking to avoid a business that is in decline, what are the trends that can warn us ahead of time? Businesses in decline often have two underlying trends, firstly, a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining base of capital employed. This reveals that the company isn't compounding shareholder wealth because returns are falling and its net asset base is shrinking. Having said that, after a brief look, Maanshan Iron & Steel (HKG:323) we aren't filled with optimism, but let's investigate further.
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. To calculate this metric for Maanshan Iron & Steel, this is the formula:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
0.049 = CN¥2.2b ÷ (CN¥95b – CN¥51b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
Therefore, Maanshan Iron & Steel has an ROCE of 4.9%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Metals and Mining industry average of 12%.
Check out our latest analysis for Maanshan Iron & Steel
In the above chart we have measured Maanshan Iron & Steel's prior ROCE against its prior performance, but the future is arguably more important. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for Maanshan Iron & Steel.
There is reason to be cautious about Maanshan Iron & Steel, given the returns are trending downwards. About five years ago, returns on capital were 9.5%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. Meanwhile, capital employed in the business has stayed roughly the flat over the period. Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years. So because these trends aren't typically conducive to creating a multi-bagger, we wouldn't hold our breath on Maanshan Iron & Steel becoming one if things continue as they have.
On a side note, Maanshan Iron & Steel's current liabilities have increased over the last five years to 54% of total assets, effectively distorting the ROCE to some degree. Without this increase, it's likely that ROCE would be even lower than 4.9%. And with current liabilities at these levels, suppliers or short-term creditors are effectively funding a large part of the business, which can introduce some risks.
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. Investors haven't taken kindly to these developments, since the stock has declined 30% from where it was five years ago. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
If you want to know some of the risks facing Maanshan Iron & Steel we've found 2 warning signs (1 is a bit unpleasant!) that you should be aware of before investing here.
While Maanshan Iron & Steel isn't earning the highest return, check out this free list of companies that are earning high returns on equity with solid balance sheets.
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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.
Find out whether Maanshan Iron & Steel is potentially over or undervalued by checking out our comprehensive analysis, which includes fair value estimates, risks and warnings, dividends, insider transactions and financial health.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Maanshan Iron & Steel Company Limited, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells iron and steel products, and related by-products in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and internationally.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Undervalued with excellent balance sheet.
Simply Wall St's Editorial Team provides unbiased, factual reporting on global stocks using in-depth fundamental analysis.
Find out more about our editorial guidelines and team.
Maanshan Iron & Steel Company Limited, together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and sells iron and steel products, and related by-products in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and internationally.
The Snowflake is a visual investment summary with the score of each axis being calculated by 6 checks in 5 areas.
Read more about these checks in the individual report sections or in our analysis model.
Undervalued with excellent balance sheet.
Simply Wall Street Pty Ltd (ACN 600 056 611), is a Corporate Authorised Representative (Authorised Representative Number: 467183) of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL No. 337927). Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any advice and/or information contained in this website and before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice. Please read our Financial Services Guide before deciding whether to obtain financial services from us.

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