Today we’ll look at Mahanagar Gas Limited (NSE:MGL) 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. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared 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 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Mahanagar Gas:
0.30 = ₹7.2b ÷ (₹32b – ₹7.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Therefore, Mahanagar Gas has an ROCE of 30%.
Is Mahanagar Gas’s ROCE Good?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Mahanagar Gas’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 18% average in the Gas Utilities industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Mahanagar Gas’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.
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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Mahanagar Gas.
Do Mahanagar Gas’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.
Mahanagar Gas has total liabilities of ₹7.8b and total assets of ₹32b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 24% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won’t have much impact on the already great ROCE.
The Bottom Line On Mahanagar Gas’s ROCE
With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Mahanagar Gas could be worthy of further investigation. Mahanagar Gas looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.