Is New Hope Corporation Limited’s (ASX:NHC) 17% ROCE Any Good?

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Today we’ll look at New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX:NHC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

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 New Hope:

0.17 = AU$410m ÷ (AU$2.7b – AU$252m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)

So, New Hope has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for New Hope

Does New Hope Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that New Hope’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how New Hope compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

New Hope reported an ROCE of 17% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

ASX:NHC Past Revenue and Net Income, June 15th 2019
ASX:NHC Past Revenue and Net Income, June 15th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Remember that most companies like New Hope are cyclical businesses. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect New Hope’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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

New Hope has total liabilities of AU$252m and total assets of AU$2.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.4% of its total assets. With low current liabilities, New Hope’s decent ROCE looks that much more respectable.

What We Can Learn From New Hope’s ROCE

If New Hope can continue reinvesting in its business, it could be an attractive prospect. New Hope 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.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.