Why You Should Like Hera S.p.A.’s (BIT:HER) ROCE

Today we’ll look at Hera S.p.A. (BIT:HER) 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed 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’.

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 Hera:

0.079 = €513m ÷ (€9.7b – €3.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Hera has an ROCE of 7.9%.

See our latest analysis for Hera

Does Hera Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Hera’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 6.5% average in the Integrated Utilities industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from how Hera stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

BIT:HER Past Revenue and Net Income, July 23rd 2019
BIT:HER Past Revenue and Net Income, July 23rd 2019

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, 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 Hera.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Hera’s 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Hera has total assets of €9.7b and current liabilities of €3.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 33% of its total assets. Hera’s ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Hera’s ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Hera. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.