Should You Worry About MVV Energie AG’s (ETR:MVV1) ROCE?

Today we are going to look at MVV Energie AG (ETR:MVV1) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 MVV Energie:

0.037 = €136m ÷ (€4.8b – €1.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, MVV Energie has an ROCE of 3.7%.

See our latest analysis for MVV Energie

Is MVV Energie’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, MVV Energie’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 5.2% average in the Integrated Utilities industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, MVV Energie’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

MVV Energie’s current ROCE of 3.7% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 5.4% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how MVV Energie’s past growth compares to other companies.

XTRA:MVV1 Past Revenue and Net Income, January 22nd 2020
XTRA:MVV1 Past Revenue and Net Income, January 22nd 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. You can check if MVV Energie has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do MVV Energie’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

MVV Energie has total liabilities of €1.2b and total assets of €4.8b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 24% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On MVV Energie’s ROCE

If MVV Energie continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like MVV Energie 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.

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.