Here’s What Constellation Software Inc.’s (TSE:CSU) ROCE Can Tell Us

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Today we’ll evaluate Constellation Software Inc. (TSE:CSU) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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.’

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 Constellation Software:

0.36 = US$498m ÷ (US$3.3b – US$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Constellation Software has an ROCE of 36%.

View our latest analysis for Constellation Software

Is Constellation Software’s ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Constellation Software’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Software industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Constellation Software’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

TSX:CSU Past Revenue and Net Income, July 4th 2019
TSX:CSU Past Revenue and Net Income, July 4th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Constellation Software.

How Constellation Software’s Current Liabilities Impact Its 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.

Constellation Software has total liabilities of US$1.9b and total assets of US$3.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 58% of its total assets. Constellation Software boasts an attractive ROCE, even after considering the boost from high current liabilities.

What We Can Learn From Constellation Software’s ROCE

So we would be interested in doing more research here — there may be an opportunity! Constellation Software looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

I will like Constellation Software 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.