Nexa Resources S.A. (NYSE:NEXA) Might Not Be A Great Investment

Today we’ll evaluate Nexa Resources S.A. (NYSE:NEXA) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Nexa Resources:

0.069 = US$351m ÷ (US$5.7b – US$652m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Nexa Resources has an ROCE of 6.9%.

View our latest analysis for Nexa Resources

Does Nexa Resources Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Nexa Resources’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Metals and Mining industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Nexa Resources’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

In our analysis, Nexa Resources’s ROCE appears to be 6.9%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 3.4%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NYSE:NEXA Past Revenue and Net Income, March 2nd 2019
NYSE:NEXA Past Revenue and Net Income, March 2nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Remember that most companies like Nexa Resources are cyclical businesses. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Nexa Resources’s Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Nexa Resources has total assets of US$5.7b and current liabilities of US$652m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 11% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Nexa Resources’s ROCE

If Nexa Resources continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Nexa Resources. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Nexa Resources 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.