W&T Offshore, Inc. (NYSE:WTI) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we’ll evaluate W&T Offshore, Inc. (NYSE:WTI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is 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. 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. 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 W&T Offshore:

0.27 = US$110m ÷ (US$1.1b – US$447m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, W&T Offshore has an ROCE of 27%.

Check out our latest analysis for W&T Offshore

Is W&T Offshore’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. W&T Offshore’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater 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. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, W&T Offshore’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

W&T Offshore has an ROCE of 27%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That suggests the business has returned to profitability.

NYSE:WTI Last Perf February 1st 19
NYSE:WTI Last Perf February 1st 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. We note W&T Offshore could be considered a cyclical business. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How W&T Offshore’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

W&T Offshore has total liabilities of US$447m and total assets of US$1.1b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 41% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts W&T Offshore’s ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On W&T Offshore’s ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. But note: W&T Offshore may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.