Are Elisa Oyj’s (OTCPK:ELMU.F) High Returns Really That Great?

Today we are going to look at Elisa Oyj (OTCPK:ELMU.F) 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.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Elisa Oyj:

0.19 = €398m ÷ (€2.7b – €601m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Elisa Oyj has an ROCE of 19%.

Check out our latest analysis for Elisa Oyj

Does Elisa Oyj Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Elisa Oyj’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 6.8% average in the Telecom industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Elisa Oyj sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

OTCPK:ELMU.F Past Revenue and Net Income, March 25th 2019
OTCPK:ELMU.F Past Revenue and Net Income, March 25th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Elisa Oyj’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Elisa Oyj has total assets of €2.7b and current liabilities of €601m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 23% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Elisa Oyj’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Elisa Oyj could be worth a closer look. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.