Parkland Fuel Corporation (TSE:PKI) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we’ll look at Parkland Fuel Corporation (TSE:PKI) 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. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. 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 Parkland Fuel:

0.096 = CA$698m ÷ (CA$9.0b – CA$1.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Parkland Fuel has an ROCE of 9.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for Parkland Fuel

Is Parkland Fuel’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Parkland Fuel’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 5.4% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Aside from the industry comparison, Parkland Fuel’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

TSX:PKI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 4th 2019
TSX:PKI Past Revenue and Net Income, June 4th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. We note Parkland Fuel could be considered a cyclical business. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Parkland Fuel.

Parkland Fuel’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Parkland Fuel has total liabilities of CA$1.7b and total assets of CA$9.0b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Parkland Fuel’s ROCE

If Parkland Fuel continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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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.