What Can We Learn From Kongsberg Automotive ASA’s (OB:KOA) Investment Returns?

Today we are going to look at Kongsberg Automotive ASA (OB:KOA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. 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 Kongsberg Automotive:

0.094 = €54m ÷ (€820m – €252m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Kongsberg Automotive has an ROCE of 9.4%.

View our latest analysis for Kongsberg Automotive

Is Kongsberg Automotive’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Kongsberg Automotive’s ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Auto Components industry. Separate from how Kongsberg Automotive 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.

OB:KOA Past Revenue and Net Income, March 15th 2019
OB:KOA Past Revenue and Net Income, March 15th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Kongsberg Automotive’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.

Kongsberg Automotive has total assets of €820m and current liabilities of €252m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 31% of its total assets. Kongsberg Automotive has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Kongsberg Automotive’s ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. But note: Kongsberg Automotive may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.