Are North Coast S.A.’s (WSE:NCT) Returns Worth Your While?

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Today we’ll look at North Coast S.A. (WSE:NCT) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.’

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 North Coast:

0.096 = zł3.0m ÷ (zł94m – zł43m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, North Coast has an ROCE of 9.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for North Coast

Does North Coast Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, North Coast’s ROCE appears to be around the 10% average of the Consumer Retailing industry. Aside from the industry comparison, North Coast’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.

North Coast delivered an ROCE of 9.6%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That suggests the business has returned to profitability.

WSE:NCT Last Perf February 12th 19
WSE:NCT Last Perf February 12th 19

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. How cyclical is North Coast? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How North Coast’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. 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.

North Coast has total assets of zł94m and current liabilities of zł43m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 46% of its total assets. North Coast has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On North Coast’s ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. 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.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.