Is Canfor Pulp Products Inc.’s (TSE:CFX) 33% ROCE Any Good?

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Today we’ll evaluate Canfor Pulp Products Inc. (TSE:CFX) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Canfor Pulp Products:

0.33 = CA$244m ÷ (CA$932m – CA$182m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Canfor Pulp Products has an ROCE of 33%.

See our latest analysis for Canfor Pulp Products

Is Canfor Pulp Products’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Canfor Pulp Products’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 17% average in the Forestry 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Canfor Pulp Products’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

Our data shows that Canfor Pulp Products currently has an ROCE of 33%, compared to its ROCE of 20% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

TSX:CFX Past Revenue and Net Income, April 30th 2019
TSX:CFX Past Revenue and Net Income, April 30th 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. 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 Canfor Pulp Products’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.

Canfor Pulp Products has total assets of CA$932m and current liabilities of CA$182m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Canfor Pulp Products’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Canfor Pulp Products could be worthy of further investigation. Canfor Pulp Products 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.

I will like Canfor Pulp Products better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.