February 6, 2023

When it comes to investing, there are some useful financial metrics that can warn us when a business is potentially in trouble. More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This reveals that the company isn't compounding shareholder wealth because returns are falling and its net asset base is shrinking. So after we looked into ManpowerGroup (NYSE:MAN), the trends above didn't look too great.
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. The formula for this calculation on ManpowerGroup is:
Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)
0.16 = US$677m ÷ (US$9.6b – US$5.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2022).
So, ManpowerGroup has an ROCE of 16%. That's a relatively normal return on capital, and it's around the 13% generated by the Professional Services industry.
See our latest analysis for ManpowerGroup
In the above chart we have measured ManpowerGroup's 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 ManpowerGroup here for free.
There is reason to be cautious about ManpowerGroup, given the returns are trending downwards. Unfortunately the returns on capital have diminished from the 21% that they were earning five years ago. On top of that, it's worth noting that the amount of capital employed within the business has remained relatively steady. 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 ManpowerGroup becoming one if things continue as they have.
On a separate but related note, it's important to know that ManpowerGroup has a current liabilities to total assets ratio of 56%, which we'd consider pretty high. This effectively means that suppliers (or short-term creditors) are funding a large portion of the business, so just be aware that this can introduce some elements of risk. Ideally we'd like to see this reduce as that would mean fewer obligations bearing risks.
All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. Long term shareholders who've owned the stock over the last five years have experienced a 38% depreciation in their investment, so it appears the market might not like these trends either. That being the case, unless the underlying trends revert to a more positive trajectory, we'd consider looking elsewhere.
Like most companies, ManpowerGroup does come with some risks, and we've found 1 warning sign that you should be aware of.
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.
Find out whether ManpowerGroup 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.
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ManpowerGroup Inc. provides workforce solutions and services in the Americas, Southern Europe, Northern Europe, and the Asia Pacific Middle East region.
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 and pays a dividend.
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.
ManpowerGroup Inc. provides workforce solutions and services in the Americas, Southern Europe, Northern Europe, and the Asia Pacific Middle East region.
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 and pays a dividend.
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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