Has Brunel International N.V. (AMS:BRNL) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Today we’ll look at Brunel International N.V. (AMS:BRNL) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Brunel International:

0.11 = €34m ÷ (€434m – €122m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Brunel International has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Brunel International

Is Brunel International’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Brunel International’s ROCE is fairly close to the Professional Services industry average of 13%. Regardless of where Brunel International sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

We can see that, Brunel International currently has an ROCE of 11%, less than the 17% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. Take a look at the image below to see how Brunel International’s past growth compares to the average in its industry.

ENXTAM:BRNL Past Revenue and Net Income, October 21st 2019
ENXTAM:BRNL Past Revenue and Net Income, October 21st 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Brunel International.

How Brunel International’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Brunel International has total liabilities of €122m and total assets of €434m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Brunel International’s ROCE

Overall, Brunel International has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than Brunel International out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.