Why We’re Not Impressed By Mobotix AG’s (ETR:MBQ) 4.6% ROCE

Today we’ll look at Mobotix AG (ETR:MBQ) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

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

Understanding 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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Mobotix:

0.046 = €1.9m ÷ (€54m – €12m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Mobotix has an ROCE of 4.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for Mobotix

Is Mobotix’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Mobotix’s ROCE is meaningfully below the Electronic industry average of 11%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, Mobotix’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.

In our analysis, Mobotix’s ROCE appears to be 4.6%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 2.6%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Mobotix’s past growth compares to other companies.

XTRA:MBQ Past Revenue and Net Income, February 28th 2020
XTRA:MBQ Past Revenue and Net Income, February 28th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Mobotix’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Mobotix has total assets of €54m and current liabilities of €12m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Mobotix’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with Mobotix’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. You might be able to find a better investment than Mobotix. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.