Are Warpaint London PLC’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Today we’ll evaluate Warpaint London PLC (LON:W7L) 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.

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. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

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 Warpaint London:

0.14 = UK£6.0m ÷ (UK£50m – UK£6.7m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Warpaint London has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Warpaint London

Is Warpaint London’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Warpaint London’s ROCE is around the 14% average reported by the Personal Products industry. Separate from Warpaint London’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Warpaint London’s current ROCE of 14% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 59% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

AIM:W7L Past Revenue and Net Income, April 24th 2019
AIM:W7L Past Revenue and Net Income, April 24th 2019

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 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Warpaint London.

Do Warpaint London’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.

Warpaint London has total liabilities of UK£6.7m and total assets of UK£50m. 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 Warpaint London’s ROCE

With that in mind, Warpaint London’s ROCE appears pretty good. Warpaint London 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.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.