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Today we are going to look at China Oriental Group Company Limited (HKG:581) 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?
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 China Oriental Group:
0.34 = CN¥6.2b ÷ (CN¥30b – CN¥12b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Therefore, China Oriental Group has an ROCE of 34%.
Is China Oriental Group’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. China Oriental Group’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.1% average in the Metals and Mining 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. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, China Oriental Group’s ROCE is currently very good.
China Oriental Group delivered an ROCE of 34%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving.
Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. Given the industry it operates in, China Oriental Group could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
China Oriental Group’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.
China Oriental Group has total liabilities of CN¥12b and total assets of CN¥30b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 39% of its total assets. China Oriental Group’s ROCE is boosted somewhat by its middling amount of current liabilities.
The Bottom Line On China Oriental Group’s ROCE
Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. China Oriental Group 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.
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 email@example.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.