Why We’re Not Impressed By Raffles Education Corporation Limited’s (SGX:NR7) 0.1% ROCE

Today we’ll evaluate Raffles Education Corporation Limited (SGX:NR7) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to 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.

Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.

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 Raffles Education:

0.0012 = S$1.2m ÷ (S$1.3b – S$231m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Raffles Education has an ROCE of 0.1%.

See our latest analysis for Raffles Education

Does Raffles Education Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Raffles Education’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 9.8% average in the Consumer Services industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of how Raffles Education stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

Raffles Education reported an ROCE of 0.1% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. That suggests the business has returned to profitability. You can see in the image below how Raffles Education’s ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

SGX:NR7 Past Revenue and Net Income, January 14th 2020
SGX:NR7 Past Revenue and Net Income, January 14th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. If Raffles Education is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Raffles Education’s ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Raffles Education has total assets of S$1.3b and current liabilities of S$231m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Raffles Education’s ROCE

Raffles Education has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Raffles Education. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Raffles Education 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.

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