Why Powersoft S.p.A.’s (BIT:PWS) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Today we’ll evaluate Powersoft S.p.A. (BIT:PWS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Powersoft:

0.20 = €3.3m ÷ (€27m – €10m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Powersoft has an ROCE of 20%.

Check out our latest analysis for Powersoft

Is Powersoft’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Powersoft’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Consumer Durables industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Powersoft’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

BIT:PWS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 27th 2019
BIT:PWS Past Revenue and Net Income, August 27th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Powersoft.

Powersoft’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Powersoft has total liabilities of €10m and total assets of €27m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. Powersoft has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Powersoft’s ROCE

Powersoft’s ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. Powersoft 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.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.