What We Think Of Buzzi Unicem S.p.A.’s (BIT:BZU) Investment Potential

Today we are going to look at Buzzi Unicem S.p.A. (BIT:BZU) 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.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Buzzi Unicem:

0.073 = €383m ÷ (€6.1b – €806m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Buzzi Unicem has an ROCE of 7.3%.

View our latest analysis for Buzzi Unicem

Is Buzzi Unicem’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Buzzi Unicem’s ROCE is around the 8.8% average reported by the Basic Materials industry. Separate from how Buzzi Unicem 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.

BIT:BZU Past Revenue and Net Income, August 19th 2019
BIT:BZU Past Revenue and Net Income, August 19th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Buzzi Unicem’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Buzzi Unicem has total assets of €6.1b and current liabilities of €806m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Buzzi Unicem’s ROCE

If Buzzi Unicem continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Buzzi Unicem. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.