Is Public Joint Stock Company Uralkali’s (MCX:URKA) 21% ROCE Any Good?

Today we’ll look at Public Joint Stock Company Uralkali (MCX:URKA) 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. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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?

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 Uralkali:

0.21 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$8.3b – US$2.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Uralkali has an ROCE of 21%.

See our latest analysis for Uralkali

Does Uralkali Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Uralkali’s ROCE is fairly close to the Chemicals industry average of 19%. Independently of how Uralkali compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

MISX:URKA Last Perf January 10th 19
MISX:URKA Last Perf January 10th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. If Uralkali is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Uralkali’s ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Uralkali has total assets of US$8.3b and current liabilities of US$2.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 35% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Uralkali’s ROCE is boosted somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Uralkali’s ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it’s worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Uralkali. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.