Is Comet Holding AG’s (VTX:COTN) Capital Allocation Ability Worth Your Time?

Today we are going to look at Comet Holding AG (VTX:COTN) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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’.

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 Comet Holding:

0.16 = CHF51m ÷ (CHF387m – CHF108m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Therefore, Comet Holding has an ROCE of 16%.

See our latest analysis for Comet Holding

Does Comet Holding Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that Comet Holding’s ROCE is fairly close to the Electronic industry average of 14%. Independently of how Comet Holding compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

SWX:COTN Last Perf January 25th 19
SWX:COTN Last Perf January 25th 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Comet Holding.

Comet Holding’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.

Comet Holding has total assets of CHF387m and current liabilities of CHF108m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 28% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Comet Holding’s ROCE

With that in mind, Comet Holding’s ROCE appears pretty good. You might be able to find a better buy than Comet Holding. 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).

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.