Should Capgemini SE’s (EPA:CAP) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Today we’ll look at Capgemini SE (EPA:CAP) 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. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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 Capgemini:

0.11 = €1.3b ÷ (€16b – €4.5b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Capgemini has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Capgemini

Want to help shape the future of investing tools? Participate in a short research study and receive a subscription valued at $60.

Does Capgemini Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Capgemini’s ROCE is meaningfully below the IT industry average of 16%. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Regardless of where Capgemini sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

ENXTPA:CAP Last Perf January 31st 19
ENXTPA:CAP Last Perf January 31st 19

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. 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 Capgemini.

Do Capgemini’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Capgemini has total liabilities of €4.5b and total assets of €16b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Capgemini’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Capgemini could be worth a closer look. But note: Capgemini 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.