Why Solar Company S.A.’s (WSE:SOL) Return On Capital Employed Might Be A Concern

Today we are going to look at Solar Company S.A. (WSE:SOL) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

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

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.

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 Solar:

0.033 = zł4.1m ÷ (zł154m – zł27m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Solar has an ROCE of 3.3%.

See our latest analysis for Solar

Is Solar’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Solar’s ROCE is meaningfully below the Luxury industry average of 8.5%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Independently of how Solar compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.0% available in government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

Solar delivered an ROCE of 3.3%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving. The image below shows how Solar’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

WSE:SOL Past Revenue and Net Income, March 4th 2020
WSE:SOL Past Revenue and Net Income, March 4th 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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 only a point-in-time measure. You can check if Solar has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Solar’s 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 ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Solar has total assets of zł154m and current liabilities of zł27m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which will have a limited impact on the ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Solar’s ROCE

That’s not a bad thing, however Solar has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

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.