latest

# B & S International Holdings Ltd. (HKG:1705) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Today we are going to look at B & S International Holdings Ltd. (HKG:1705) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

### Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

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. In the end, ROCE 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.’

### 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 B & S International Holdings:

0.28 = HK\$45m ÷ (HK\$256m – HK\$110m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, B & S International Holdings has an ROCE of 28%.

### Does B & S International Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. B & S International Holdings’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.9% average in the Consumer Retailing industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, B & S International Holdings’s ROCE is currently very good.

B & S International Holdings’s current ROCE of 28% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 47% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. You can check if B & S International Holdings has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

### What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect B & S International Holdings’s 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) unfairly boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

B & S International Holdings has total assets of HK\$256m and current liabilities of HK\$110m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 43% of its total assets. B & S International Holdings’s ROCE is boosted somewhat by its middling amount of current liabilities.

### The Bottom Line On B & S International Holdings’s ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

Of course B & S International Holdings may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have high ROE and low debt.

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.