Has UltraTech Cement Limited (NSE:ULTRACEMCO) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Today we are going to look at UltraTech Cement Limited (NSE:ULTRACEMCO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. 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 amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the 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 UltraTech Cement:

0.11 = ₹66b ÷ (₹799b – ₹175b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, UltraTech Cement has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for UltraTech Cement

Is UltraTech Cement’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that UltraTech Cement’s ROCE is fairly close to the Basic Materials industry average of 10%. Separate from how UltraTech Cement stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how UltraTech Cement’s past growth compares to other companies.

NSEI:ULTRACEMCO Past Revenue and Net Income, February 12th 2020
NSEI:ULTRACEMCO Past Revenue and Net Income, February 12th 2020

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for UltraTech Cement.

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

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

UltraTech Cement has current liabilities of ₹175b and total assets of ₹799b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On UltraTech Cement’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with UltraTech Cement’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.