Evaluating DTE Energy Company’s (NYSE:DTE) Investments In Its Business

Today we are going to look at DTE Energy Company (NYSE:DTE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 DTE Energy:

0.049 = US$1.6b ÷ (US$37b – US$3.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, DTE Energy has an ROCE of 4.9%.

See our latest analysis for DTE Energy

Is DTE Energy’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, DTE Energy’s ROCE appears to be around the 4.9% average of the Integrated Utilities industry. Independently of how DTE Energy compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

NYSE:DTE Past Revenue and Net Income, August 16th 2019
NYSE:DTE Past Revenue and Net Income, August 16th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. 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 DTE Energy.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect DTE Energy’s 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

DTE Energy has total liabilities of US$3.7b and total assets of US$37b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 9.9% of its total assets. DTE Energy has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

Our Take On DTE Energy’s ROCE

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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.