Should You Worry About FIH group plc’s (LON:FIH) ROCE?

Today we’ll evaluate FIH group plc (LON:FIH) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we 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.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 FIH group:

0.06 = UK£3.3m ÷ (UK£64m – UK£9.4m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, FIH group has an ROCE of 6.0%.

See our latest analysis for FIH group

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Does FIH group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, FIH group’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 8.0% average reported by the Consumer Retailing 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 FIH group stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

AIM:FIH Last Perf January 18th 19
AIM:FIH Last Perf January 18th 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 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 FIH group.

Do FIH group’s Current Liabilities Skew 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.

FIH group has total liabilities of UK£9.4m and total assets of UK£64m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On FIH group’s ROCE

If FIH group continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: FIH group 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.