Is ElringKlinger AG (FRA:ZIL2) Struggling With Its 3.3% Return On Capital Employed?

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Today we’ll look at ElringKlinger AG (FRA:ZIL2) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the 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.

What is 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 ElringKlinger:

0.033 = €57m ÷ (€2.2b – €478m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, ElringKlinger has an ROCE of 3.3%.

View our latest analysis for ElringKlinger

Is ElringKlinger’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, ElringKlinger’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 9.1% average reported by the Auto Components industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Separate from how ElringKlinger stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

ElringKlinger’s current ROCE of 3.3% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 9.2% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

DB:ZIL2 Past Revenue and Net Income, July 20th 2019
DB:ZIL2 Past Revenue and Net Income, July 20th 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How ElringKlinger’s Current Liabilities Impact 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. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

ElringKlinger has total liabilities of €478m and total assets of €2.2b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 22% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From ElringKlinger’s ROCE

With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with ElringKlinger’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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.