PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG): Assessing Capital Returns

This article is intended for those of you who are at the beginning of your investing journey and want a simplistic look at the return on PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG) stock.

Buying PG&E makes you a partial owner of the company. This share represents a portion of capital used by the company to operate the business, and it is important the company is able to use the capital base efficiently to create adequate cash flows for you as an investor. Your return is tied to PCG’s ability to do this because the amount earned is used to invest in opportunities to grow the business or payout dividends, which are the two sources of return on investment. Therefore, looking at how efficiently PG&E is able to use capital to create earnings will help us understand your potential return. Investors use many different metrics but the analysis below focuses on return on capital employed (ROCE). Let’s take a look at what it can tell us.

View our latest analysis for PG&E

Calculating Return On Capital Employed for PCG

When you choose to invest in a company, there is an opportunity cost because that money could’ve been invested elsewhere. Therefore all else aside, your investment in a certain company represents a vote of confidence that the money used to buy the stock will grow larger than if invested elsewhere. So the business’ ability to grow the size of your capital is very important and can be assessed by comparing the return on capital you can get on your investment with a hurdle rate that depends on the other return possibilities you can identify. To determine PG&E’s capital return we will use ROCE, which tells us how much the company makes from the capital employed in their operations (for things like machinery, wages etc). I have calculated PG&E’s ROCE for you below:

ROCE Calculation for PCG

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) = Earnings Before Tax (EBT) ÷ (Capital Employed)

Capital Employed = (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

∴ ROCE = US$2.1b ÷ (US$69.9b – US$9.8b) = 3.5%

As you can see, PCG earned $3.5 from every $100 you invested over the previous twelve months. Comparing this to a healthy 15% benchmark shows PG&E is currently unable to return a satisfactory amount to owners for the use of their capital, which isn’t good for investors who have forgone other potentially solid companies.

NYSE:PCG Last Perf November 6th 18
NYSE:PCG Last Perf November 6th 18

What is causing this?

The underperforming ROCE is not ideal for PG&E investors if the company is unable to turn things around. But if the underlying variables (earnings and capital employed) improve, PCG’s ROCE may increase, in which case your portfolio could benefit from holding the company. Therefore, investors need to understand the trend of the inputs in the formula above, so that they can see if there is an opportunity to invest. Three years ago, PCG’s ROCE was 2.8%, which means the company’s capital returns have improved. Over the same period, EBT went from US$1.5b to US$2.1b and the amount of capital employed also grew but by a proportionally lesser volume, which suggests the larger ROCE is due to a growth in earnings relative to capital requirements.

Next Steps

ROCE for PCG investors is below the desired level at the moment, however, the company has triggered an upward trend over the recent past which could signal an opportunity for a solid return on investment in the long term. It is important to know that ROCE does not dictate returns alone, so you need to consider other fundamentals in the business such as future prospects and management ability to determine whether there is potential for return by focusing our attention elsewhere. PG&E’s fundamentals can be explored with the links I’ve provided below if you are interested, otherwise you can start looking at other high-performing stocks.

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for PCG’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for PCG’s outlook.
  2. Management:Have insiders been ramping up their shares to take advantage of the market’s sentiment for PG&E’s future outlook? Check out our management and board analysis with insights on CEO compensation and governance factors.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.