Why United Strength Power Holdings Limited’s (HKG:2337) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Today we’ll look at United Strength Power Holdings Limited (HKG:2337) 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 United Strength Power Holdings:

0.24 = CN¥62m ÷ (CN¥323m – CN¥60m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, United Strength Power Holdings has an ROCE of 24%.

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Does United Strength Power Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. United Strength Power Holdings’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 13% average in the Specialty Retail 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, United Strength Power Holdings’s ROCE is currently very good.

As we can see, United Strength Power Holdings currently has an ROCE of 24%, less than the 32% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

SEHK:2337 Past Revenue and Net Income, May 21st 2019
SEHK:2337 Past Revenue and Net Income, May 21st 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. You can check if United Strength Power 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 United Strength Power Holdings’s 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

United Strength Power Holdings has total liabilities of CN¥60m and total assets of CN¥323m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

What We Can Learn From United Strength Power Holdings’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, United Strength Power Holdings may be worth a closer look. United Strength Power Holdings 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 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.