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Today we'll evaluate Indutrade AB (publ) (STO:INDT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.'
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 Indutrade:
0.18 = kr1.4b ÷ (kr14b - kr5.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)
So, Indutrade has an ROCE of 18%.
Is Indutrade's ROCE Good?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Indutrade's ROCE is around the 17% average reported by the Trade Distributors industry. Separate from Indutrade's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.
It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our freereport on analyst forecasts for Indutrade.
How Indutrade's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Indutrade has total liabilities of kr5.3b and total assets of kr14b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Indutrade's ROCE is boosted somewhat.
The Bottom Line On Indutrade's ROCE
With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this freelist 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 freelist 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 email@example.com.
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Simply Wall St has no position in any of the companies mentioned. This article 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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.
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