How Do Frontera Energy Corporation’s (TSE:FEC) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Today we’ll look at Frontera Energy Corporation (TSE:FEC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, 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 measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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’.

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 Frontera Energy:

0.033 = US$61m ÷ (US$2.4b – US$544m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Frontera Energy has an ROCE of 3.3%.

See our latest analysis for Frontera Energy

Does Frontera Energy Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Frontera Energy’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 5.4% average in the Oil and Gas industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Putting aside Frontera Energy’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor – considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Frontera Energy’s past growth compares to other companies.

TSX:FEC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020
TSX:FEC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Remember that most companies like Frontera Energy are cyclical businesses. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Frontera Energy.

How Frontera Energy’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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Frontera Energy has total liabilities of US$544m and total assets of US$2.4b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

Our Take On Frontera Energy’s ROCE

While that is good to see, Frontera Energy has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. You might be able to find a better investment than Frontera Energy. 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).

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.

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.