Why CONSOL Energy Inc.’s (NYSE:CEIX) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Today we’ll evaluate CONSOL Energy Inc. (NYSE:CEIX) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 CONSOL Energy:

0.11 = US$166m ÷ (US$2.7b – US$373m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, CONSOL Energy has an ROCE of 11%.

See our latest analysis for CONSOL Energy

Is CONSOL Energy’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that CONSOL Energy’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 5.6% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from CONSOL Energy’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NYSE:CEIX Last Perf January 25th 19
NYSE:CEIX Last Perf January 25th 19

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Given the industry it operates in, CONSOL Energy 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.

CONSOL Energy’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

CONSOL Energy has total assets of US$2.7b and current liabilities of US$373m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On CONSOL Energy’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, CONSOL Energy could be worth a closer look. 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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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.