MillerKnoll (NASDAQ:MLKN) Might Be Having Difficulty Using Its Capital Effectively
Simply Wall St · 09/15 11:09

Finding a business that has the potential to grow substantially is not easy, but it is possible if we look at a few key financial metrics. Ideally, a business will show two trends; firstly a growing return on capital employed (ROCE) and secondly, an increasing amount of capital employed. Basically this means that a company has profitable initiatives that it can continue to reinvest in, which is a trait of a compounding machine. In light of that, when we looked at MillerKnoll (NASDAQ:MLKN) and its ROCE trend, we weren't exactly thrilled.

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 MillerKnoll is:

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

0.065 = US$234m ÷ (US$4.3b - US$703m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2023).

Thus, MillerKnoll has an ROCE of 6.5%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Commercial Services industry average of 8.4%.

See our latest analysis for MillerKnoll

NasdaqGS:MLKN Return on Capital Employed September 15th 2023

Above you can see how the current ROCE for MillerKnoll compares to its prior returns on capital, but there's only so much you can tell from the past. If you'd like to see what analysts are forecasting going forward, you should check out our free report for MillerKnoll.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

When we looked at the ROCE trend at MillerKnoll, we didn't gain much confidence. To be more specific, ROCE has fallen from 17% over the last five years. On the other hand, the company has been employing more capital without a corresponding improvement in sales in the last year, which could suggest these investments are longer term plays. It's worth keeping an eye on the company's earnings from here on to see if these investments do end up contributing to the bottom line.

On a side note, MillerKnoll has done well to pay down its current liabilities to 16% of total assets. So we could link some of this to the decrease in ROCE. Effectively this means their suppliers or short-term creditors are funding less of the business, which reduces some elements of risk. Since the business is basically funding more of its operations with it's own money, you could argue this has made the business less efficient at generating ROCE.

What We Can Learn From MillerKnoll's ROCE

To conclude, we've found that MillerKnoll is reinvesting in the business, but returns have been falling. And investors appear hesitant that the trends will pick up because the stock has fallen 48% in the last five years. On the whole, we aren't too inspired by the underlying trends and we think there may be better chances of finding a multi-bagger elsewhere.

On a final note, we found 3 warning signs for MillerKnoll (1 shouldn't be ignored) you should be aware of.

While MillerKnoll may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.