Why Kaiser Aluminum Corporation’s (NASDAQ:KALU) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

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Today we’ll evaluate Kaiser Aluminum Corporation (NASDAQ:KALU) 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.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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’.

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 Kaiser Aluminum:

0.12 = US$145m ÷ (US$1.4b – US$204m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Kaiser Aluminum has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Kaiser Aluminum

Does Kaiser Aluminum Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Kaiser Aluminum’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.1% average in the Metals and Mining industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Kaiser Aluminum sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NasdaqGS:KALU Past Revenue and Net Income, June 8th 2019
NasdaqGS:KALU Past Revenue and Net Income, June 8th 2019

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. Remember that most companies like Kaiser Aluminum are cyclical businesses. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Kaiser Aluminum.

Kaiser Aluminum’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Kaiser Aluminum has total liabilities of US$204m and total assets of US$1.4b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 14% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Kaiser Aluminum’s ROCE

Overall, Kaiser Aluminum has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Kaiser Aluminum shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.