Is There More To Shaw Communications Inc. (TSE:SJR.B) Than Its 8.0% Returns On Capital?

Today we are going to look at Shaw Communications Inc. (TSE:SJR.B) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Shaw Communications:

0.08 = CA$1.1b ÷ (CA$16b – CA$1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to November 2019.)

Therefore, Shaw Communications has an ROCE of 8.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Shaw Communications

Does Shaw Communications Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. It appears that Shaw Communications’s ROCE is fairly close to the Media industry average of 9.1%. Aside from the industry comparison, Shaw Communications’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

You can see in the image below how Shaw Communications’s ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

TSX:SJR.B Past Revenue and Net Income, February 11th 2020
TSX:SJR.B Past Revenue and Net Income, February 11th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Shaw Communications’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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Shaw Communications has total assets of CA$16b and current liabilities of CA$1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 10% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Shaw Communications’s ROCE

That said, Shaw Communications’s ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Shaw Communications. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Shaw Communications better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.

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