These Return Metrics Don't Make Louisiana-Pacific (NYSE:LPX) Look Too Strong

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation +0.12%

Louisiana-Pacific Corporation

LPX

72.11

+0.12%

What financial metrics can indicate to us that a company is maturing or even in decline? When we see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) in conjunction with a declining base of capital employed, that's often how a mature business shows signs of aging. Trends like this ultimately mean the business is reducing its investments and also earning less on what it has invested. In light of that, from a first glance at Louisiana-Pacific (NYSE:LPX), we've spotted some signs that it could be struggling, so let's investigate.

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. The formula for this calculation on Louisiana-Pacific is:

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

0.14 = US$299m ÷ (US$2.4b - US$266m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2023).

Thus, Louisiana-Pacific has an ROCE of 14%. That's a pretty standard return and it's in line with the industry average of 14%.

See our latest analysis for Louisiana-Pacific

roce
NYSE:LPX Return on Capital Employed December 29th 2023

In the above chart we have measured Louisiana-Pacific'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 Louisiana-Pacific here for free.

What Does the ROCE Trend For Louisiana-Pacific Tell Us?

In terms of Louisiana-Pacific's historical ROCE movements, the trend doesn't inspire confidence. About five years ago, returns on capital were 28%, 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. Companies that exhibit these attributes tend to not be shrinking, but they can be mature and facing pressure on their margins from competition. If these trends continue, we wouldn't expect Louisiana-Pacific to turn into a multi-bagger.

What We Can Learn From Louisiana-Pacific's ROCE

All in all, the lower returns from the same amount of capital employed aren't exactly signs of a compounding machine. Yet despite these poor fundamentals, the stock has gained a huge 259% over the last five years, so investors appear very optimistic. Regardless, we don't feel too comfortable with the fundamentals so we'd be steering clear of this stock for now.

Louisiana-Pacific does come with some risks though, we found 3 warning signs in our investment analysis, and 1 of those is potentially serious...

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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