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Today we’ll look at Pico Far East Holdings Limited (HKG:752) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Pico Far East Holdings:
0.15 = HK$330m ÷ (HK$4.1b – HK$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)
Therefore, Pico Far East Holdings has an ROCE of 15%.
Is Pico Far East Holdings’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Pico Far East Holdings’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Media industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Pico Far East Holdings compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.
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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Pico Far East Holdings.
How Pico Far East Holdings’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE
Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.
Pico Far East Holdings has total assets of HK$4.1b and current liabilities of HK$1.9b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 46% of its total assets. Pico Far East Holdings has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.
What We Can Learn From Pico Far East Holdings’s ROCE
While its ROCE looks good, it’s worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. 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.
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 email@example.com.