Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

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Today we’ll evaluate Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (LON:SEPL) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for Seplat Petroleum Development:

0.15 = US$327m ÷ (US$2.5b – US$324m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Seplat Petroleum Development has an ROCE of 15%.

Check out our latest analysis for Seplat Petroleum Development

Does Seplat Petroleum Development Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Seplat Petroleum Development’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.0% average in the Oil and Gas industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Independently of how Seplat Petroleum Development compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

In our analysis, Seplat Petroleum Development’s ROCE appears to be 15%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 6.9%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

LSE:SEPL Past Revenue and Net Income, April 29th 2019
LSE:SEPL Past Revenue and Net Income, April 29th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Given the industry it operates in, Seplat Petroleum Development could be considered cyclical. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Seplat Petroleum Development.

Do Seplat Petroleum Development’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Seplat Petroleum Development has total liabilities of US$324m and total assets of US$2.5b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Seplat Petroleum Development’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Seplat Petroleum Development could be worth a closer look. Seplat Petroleum Development shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.