Zalando (ETR:ZAL) Is Reinvesting At Lower Rates Of Return

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. Firstly, we’ll want to see a proven return on capital employed (ROCE) that is increasing, and secondly, an expanding base or capital employed. Ultimately, this demonstrates that it’s a business that is reinvesting profits at increasing rates of return. Although, when we looked at Zalando (ETR:ZAL), it didn’t seem to tick all of these boxes.

What Is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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 Zalando is:

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

0.036 = €136m ÷ (€7.3b – €3.5b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2022).

Therefore, Zalando has an ROCE of 3.6%. Ultimately, that’s a low return and it under-performs the Online Retail industry average of 6.6%.

View our latest analysis for Zalando

roce
XTRA:WILL Return on Capital Employed January 25th 2023

In the above chart we have measured Zalando’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 Zalando here for free.

The Trend Of ROCE

When we looked at the ROCE trend at Zalando, we didn’t gain much confidence. Over the last five years, returns on capital have decreased to 3.6% from 11% five years ago. However it looks like Zalando might be reinvesting for long term growth because while capital employed has increased, the company’s sales haven’t changed much in the last 12 months. 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.

Another thing to note, Zalando has a high ratio of current liabilities to total assets of 48%. 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. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can be beneficial if this ratio is lower.

Our Take On Zalando’s ROCE

In summary, Zalando is reinvesting funds back into the business for growth but unfortunately it looks like sales haven’t increased much just yet. Unsurprisingly then, the total return to shareholders over the last five years has been flat. Therefore based on the analysis done in this article, we don’t think Zalando has the makings of a multi-bagger.

On a separate note, we’ve found 2 warning signs for Zalando you’ll probably want to know about.

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.

Valuation is complex, but we’re helping make it simple.

Find out whether Zalando 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.

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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.

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