What Does Cogeco Inc.’s (TSE:CGO) 8.7% ROCE Say About The Business?

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Today we’ll look at Cogeco Inc. (TSE:CGO) 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.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.’

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 Cogeco:

0.087 = CA$608m ÷ (CA$7.4b – CA$404m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

So, Cogeco has an ROCE of 8.7%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cogeco

Is Cogeco’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Cogeco’s ROCE is around the 9.1% average reported by the Media industry. Separate from how Cogeco stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

TSX:CGO Past Revenue and Net Income, June 20th 2019
TSX:CGO Past Revenue and Net Income, June 20th 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Cogeco’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Cogeco has total assets of CA$7.4b and current liabilities of CA$404m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 5.5% of its total assets. With low levels of current liabilities, at least Cogeco’s mediocre ROCE is not unduly boosted.

What We Can Learn From Cogeco’s ROCE

Based on this information, Cogeco appears to be a mediocre business. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Cogeco. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.