What Can We Learn From Bufab AB (publ)’s (STO:BUFAB) Investment Returns?

Today we’ll look at Bufab AB (publ) (STO:BUFAB) 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.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 ‘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?

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 Bufab:

0.10 = kr384m ÷ (kr4.6b – kr916m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Bufab has an ROCE of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Bufab

Is Bufab’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Bufab’s ROCE appears to be around the 13% average of the Trade Distributors industry. Independently of how Bufab compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Take a look at the image below to see how Bufab’s past growth compares to the average in its industry.

OM:BUFAB Past Revenue and Net Income, November 25th 2019
OM:BUFAB Past Revenue and Net Income, November 25th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Bufab.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Bufab’s 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Bufab has total assets of kr4.6b and current liabilities of kr916m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Bufab’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Bufab could be worth a closer look. Bufab shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.