Evaluating Self Storage Group ASA’s (OB:SSG) Investments In Its Business

Today we are going to look at Self Storage Group ASA (OB:SSG) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 Self Storage Group:

0.078 = kr139m ÷ (kr2.0b – kr218m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Self Storage Group has an ROCE of 7.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for Self Storage Group

Does Self Storage Group Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Self Storage Group’s ROCE appears to be around the 9.6% average of the Commercial Services industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Self Storage Group’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.

Self Storage Group’s current ROCE of 7.8% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 12% ROCE. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. The image below shows how Self Storage Group’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

OB:SSG Past Revenue and Net Income, February 13th 2020
OB:SSG Past Revenue and Net Income, February 13th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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, 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 Self Storage Group.

Self Storage Group’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Self Storage Group has total assets of kr2.0b and current liabilities of kr218m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Self Storage Group’s ROCE

That said, Self Storage Group’s ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. You might be able to find a better investment than Self Storage Group. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.