Are Bouygues SA’s (EPA:EN) Returns On Investment Worth Your While?

Today we are going to look at Bouygues SA (EPA:EN) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

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

Or for Bouygues:

0.077 = €1.5b ÷ (€40b – €20b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Bouygues has an ROCE of 7.7%.

View our latest analysis for Bouygues

Is Bouygues’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Bouygues’s ROCE appears to be around the 8.9% average of the Construction industry. Separate from how Bouygues stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

In our analysis, Bouygues’s ROCE appears to be 7.7%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 4.5%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

ENXTPA:EN Past Revenue and Net Income, August 12th 2019
ENXTPA:EN Past Revenue and Net Income, August 12th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Bouygues.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Bouygues’s ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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.

Bouygues has total assets of €40b and current liabilities of €20b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 49% of its total assets. Bouygues’s middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

The Bottom Line On Bouygues’s ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Bouygues better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.