What Can We Make Of Sabien Technology Group Plc’s (LON:SNT) High Return On Capital?

Today we’ll evaluate Sabien Technology Group Plc (LON:SNT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Sabien Technology Group:

0.19 = UK£183k ÷ (UK£1.1m – UK£136k) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Sabien Technology Group has an ROCE of 19%.

Check out our latest analysis for Sabien Technology Group

Is Sabien Technology Group’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Sabien Technology Group’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 12% average in the Electronic industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Sabien Technology Group’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

Sabien Technology Group has an ROCE of 19%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That implies the business has been improving. The image below shows how Sabien Technology Group’s ROCE compares to its industry.

AIM:SNT Past Revenue and Net Income, October 29th 2019
AIM:SNT Past Revenue and Net Income, October 29th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is Sabien Technology Group? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Sabien Technology Group’s Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Sabien Technology Group has total liabilities of UK£136k and total assets of UK£1.1m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Sabien Technology Group’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Sabien Technology Group could be worthy of further investigation. Sabien Technology Group 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.