Today we’ll evaluate Leifheit Aktiengesellschaft (ETR:LEI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.
Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.
Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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’.
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 Leifheit:
0.067 = €11m ÷ (€217m – €49m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)
Therefore, Leifheit has an ROCE of 6.7%.
Is Leifheit’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Leifheit’s ROCE is fairly close to the Consumer Durables industry average of 8.2%. Separate from how Leifheit 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.
We can see that, Leifheit currently has an ROCE of 6.7%, less than the 10% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can see in the image below how Leifheit’s ROCE compares to its industry.
It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Leifheit.
Do Leifheit’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Leifheit has total assets of €217m and current liabilities of €49m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 22% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.
Our Take On Leifheit’s ROCE
If Leifheit continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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.
I will like Leifheit better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.
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