Is Xing SE’s (ETR:O1BC) 32% ROCE Any Good?

Today we’ll look at Xing SE (ETR:O1BC) 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. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.’

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 Xing:

0.32 = €44m ÷ (€279m – €134m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Xing has an ROCE of 32%.

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Does Xing Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Xing’s ROCE is around the 29% average reported by the Interactive Media and Services industry. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Xing’s ROCE is currently very good.

XTRA:O1BC Last Perf January 12th 19
XTRA:O1BC Last Perf January 12th 19

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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Xing’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Xing has total liabilities of €134m and total assets of €279m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 48% of its total assets. Xing has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Xing’s ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. But note: Xing may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.