Why You Should Like Pacific Energy Limited’s (ASX:PEA) ROCE

Today we’ll evaluate Pacific Energy Limited (ASX:PEA) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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’.

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 Pacific Energy:

0.13 = AU$36m ÷ (AU$302m – AU$30m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Pacific Energy has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Pacific Energy

Does Pacific Energy Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, Pacific Energy’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 7.9% average in the Renewable Energy industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Pacific Energy sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

ASX:PEA Past Revenue and Net Income, April 14th 2019
ASX:PEA Past Revenue and Net Income, April 14th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Pacific Energy.

Do Pacific Energy’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Pacific Energy has total liabilities of AU$30m and total assets of AU$302m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 10% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Pacific Energy’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Pacific Energy could be worth a closer look. Pacific Energy 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.

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

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.