Here’s What Silgan Holdings Inc.’s (NASDAQ:SLGN) Return On Capital Can Tell Us

Today we’ll look at Silgan Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:SLGN) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Silgan Holdings:

0.12 = US$418m ÷ (US$4.6b – US$1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Silgan Holdings has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Silgan Holdings

Does Silgan Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Silgan Holdings’s ROCE is fairly close to the Packaging industry average of 12%. Independently of how Silgan Holdings compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NasdaqGS:SLGN Past Revenue and Net Income, April 5th 2019
NasdaqGS:SLGN Past Revenue and Net Income, April 5th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Silgan Holdings.

Do Silgan Holdings’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.

Silgan Holdings has total assets of US$4.6b and current liabilities of US$1.1b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Silgan Holdings’s ROCE

With that in mind, Silgan Holdings’s ROCE appears pretty good. 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.

I will like Silgan Holdings better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.