What Can We Learn From Koninklijke BAM Groep nv’s (AMS:BAMNB) Investment Returns?

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Today we’ll look at Koninklijke BAM Groep nv (AMS:BAMNB) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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?

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 Koninklijke BAM Groep:

0.077 = €101m ÷ (€4.6b – €3.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Koninklijke BAM Groep has an ROCE of 7.7%.

View our latest analysis for Koninklijke BAM Groep

Is Koninklijke BAM Groep’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Koninklijke BAM Groep’s ROCE appears to be around the 8.8% average of the Construction industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Koninklijke BAM Groep’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

In our analysis, Koninklijke BAM Groep’s ROCE appears to be 7.7%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 1.1%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

ENXTAM:BAMNB Past Revenue and Net Income, June 24th 2019
ENXTAM:BAMNB Past Revenue and Net Income, June 24th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 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 Koninklijke BAM Groep.

Do Koninklijke BAM Groep’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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Koninklijke BAM Groep has total liabilities of €3.3b and total assets of €4.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 71% of its total assets. Koninklijke BAM Groep’s current liabilities are fairly high, making its ROCE look better than otherwise.

What We Can Learn From Koninklijke BAM Groep’s ROCE

Notably, it also has a mediocre ROCE, which to my mind is not an appealing combination. 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.

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.