Are Mondi plc’s (LON:MNDI) High Returns Really That Great?

Today we are going to look at Mondi plc (LON:MNDI) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Mondi:

0.18 = €970m ÷ (€7.9b – €1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Therefore, Mondi has an ROCE of 18%.

Check out our latest analysis for Mondi

Does Mondi Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Mondi’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 8.6% average in the Forestry industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Mondi compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

LSE:MNDI Last Perf January 26th 19
LSE:MNDI Last Perf January 26th 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Mondi.

How Mondi’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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Mondi has total liabilities of €1.6b and total assets of €7.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Mondi’s ROCE

Overall, Mondi has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. But note: Mondi 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.