Has BioDue S.p.A. (BIT:BIO2) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Today we’ll look at BioDue S.p.A. (BIT:BIO2) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. 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. 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?

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 BioDue:

0.15 = €5.3m ÷ (€47m – €11m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, BioDue has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for BioDue

Is BioDue’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, BioDue’s ROCE appears to be around the 14% average of the Personal Products industry. Separate from BioDue’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

BioDue’s current ROCE of 15% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 20% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

BIT:BIO2 Past Revenue and Net Income, July 26th 2019
BIT:BIO2 Past Revenue and Net Income, July 26th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for BioDue.

Do BioDue’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

BioDue has total assets of €47m and current liabilities of €11m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 23% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On BioDue’s ROCE

With that in mind, BioDue’s ROCE appears pretty good. BioDue shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

I will like BioDue 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.