W&T Offshore, Inc. (NYSE:WTI) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Today we’ll look at W&T Offshore, Inc. (NYSE:WTI) 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.

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 W&T Offshore:

0.18 = US\$144m ÷ (US\$1.0b – US\$228m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, W&T Offshore has an ROCE of 18%.

View our latest analysis for W&T Offshore

Is W&T Offshore’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that W&T Offshore’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.0% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from W&T Offshore’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

W&T Offshore reported an ROCE of 18% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how W&T Offshore’s ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Given the industry it operates in, W&T Offshore 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.

Do W&T Offshore’s Current Liabilities Skew Its 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.

W&T Offshore has total assets of US\$1.0b and current liabilities of US\$228m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On W&T Offshore’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, W&T Offshore could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than W&T Offshore out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do 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.

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