Does Semcon AB’s (STO:SEMC) ROCE Reflect Well On The Business?

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Today we are going to look at Semcon AB (STO:SEMC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Semcon:

0.16 = kr123m ÷ (kr1.1b – kr353m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Semcon has an ROCE of 16%.

See our latest analysis for Semcon

Does Semcon Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Semcon’s ROCE appears to be around the 14% average of the Professional Services industry. Separate from Semcon’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

As we can see, Semcon currently has an ROCE of 16% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 6.6%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly.

OM:SEMC Past Revenue and Net Income, May 13th 2019
OM:SEMC Past Revenue and Net Income, May 13th 2019

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 free report on analyst forecasts for Semcon.

Do Semcon’s Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Semcon has total assets of kr1.1b and current liabilities of kr353m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Semcon has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Semcon’s ROCE

With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. Semcon looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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 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. Thank you for reading.