Today we’ll look at Stalprodukt S.A. (WSE:STP) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.
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.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Stalprodukt:
0.086 = zł301m ÷ (zł4.4b – zł839m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
So, Stalprodukt has an ROCE of 8.6%.
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Does Stalprodukt Have A Good ROCE?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Stalprodukt’s ROCE is meaningfully below the Metals and Mining industry average of 12%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Separate from how Stalprodukt stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.
Stalprodukt’s current ROCE of 8.6% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 12% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.
When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Given the industry it operates in, Stalprodukt could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
Stalprodukt’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE
Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.
Stalprodukt has total liabilities of zł839m and total assets of zł4.4b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.
Our Take On Stalprodukt’s ROCE
With that in mind, we’re not overly impressed with Stalprodukt’s ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. 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.
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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 email@example.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.