Be Wary Of Autoliv (NYSE:ALV) And Its Returns On Capital

Autoliv Inc. +0.21%

Autoliv Inc.

ALV

126.27

+0.21%

What underlying fundamental trends can indicate that a company might be in decline? Typically, we'll see the trend of both return on capital employed (ROCE) declining and this usually coincides with a decreasing amount of capital employed. Trends like this ultimately mean the business is reducing its investments and also earning less on what it has invested. On that note, looking into Autoliv (NYSE:ALV), we weren't too upbeat about how things were going.

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

If you haven't worked with ROCE before, it measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. The formula for this calculation on Autoliv is:

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

0.16 = US$689m ÷ (US$8.3b - US$4.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2023).

Thus, Autoliv has an ROCE of 16%. On its own, that's a standard return, however it's much better than the 12% generated by the Auto Components industry.

Check out our latest analysis for Autoliv

roce
NYSE:ALV Return on Capital Employed January 30th 2024

In the above chart we have measured Autoliv'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 Autoliv here for free.

What Can We Tell From Autoliv's ROCE Trend?

In terms of Autoliv's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 23%, however they're now substantially lower than that as we saw above. And on the capital employed front, the business is utilizing roughly the same amount of capital as it was back then. This combination can be indicative of a mature business that still has areas to deploy capital, but the returns received aren't as high due potentially to new competition or smaller margins. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Autoliv to turn into a multi-bagger.

Another thing to note, Autoliv has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 48%. 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 Key Takeaway

All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. But investors must be expecting an improvement of sorts because over the last five yearsthe stock has delivered a respectable 58% return. Regardless, we don't feel too comfortable with the fundamentals so we'd be steering clear of this stock for now.

Autoliv does have some risks though, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Autoliv that you might be interested in.

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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