easyJet plc (LON:EZJ) Might Not Be A Great Investment

Today we’ll look at easyJet plc (LON:EZJ) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 easyJet:

0.067 = UK£301m ÷ (UK£7.4b – UK£2.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, easyJet has an ROCE of 6.7%.

See our latest analysis for easyJet

Does easyJet Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, easyJet’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 14% average in the Airlines industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Aside from the industry comparison, easyJet’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

We can see that, easyJet currently has an ROCE of 6.7%, less than the 22% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can see in the image below how easyJet’s ROCE compares to its industry.

LSE:EZJ Past Revenue and Net Income, September 20th 2019
LSE:EZJ Past Revenue and Net Income, September 20th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for easyJet.

Do easyJet’s Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

easyJet has total liabilities of UK£2.9b and total assets of UK£7.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 39% of its total assets. easyJet has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From easyJet’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).

easyJet is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with 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.

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