A Close Look At Sands China Ltd.’s (HKG:1928) 23% ROCE

Today we are going to look at Sands China Ltd. (HKG:1928) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

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

Or for Sands China:

0.23 = US$2.4b ÷ (US$12b – US$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Sands China has an ROCE of 23%.

See our latest analysis for Sands China

Is Sands China’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Sands China’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 5.8% average in the Hospitality industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Sands China’s ROCE is currently very good.

In our analysis, Sands China’s ROCE appears to be 23%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 16%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

SEHK:1928 Past Revenue and Net Income, August 6th 2019
SEHK:1928 Past Revenue and Net Income, August 6th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Sands China’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Sands China has total liabilities of US$1.9b and total assets of US$12b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 16% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Sands China’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Sands China may be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Sands China out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.