Does The Sherwin-Williams Company (NYSE:SHW) Create Value For Shareholders?

Today we’ll evaluate The Sherwin-Williams Company (NYSE:SHW) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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?

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 Sherwin-Williams:

0.13 = US$1.9b ÷ (US$19b – US$4.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Sherwin-Williams has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Sherwin-Williams

Does Sherwin-Williams Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Sherwin-Williams’s ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Chemicals industry. Independently of how Sherwin-Williams compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

As we can see, Sherwin-Williams currently has an ROCE of 13%, less than the 44% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NYSE:SHW Past Revenue and Net Income, April 12th 2019
NYSE:SHW Past Revenue and Net Income, April 12th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Sherwin-Williams.

How Sherwin-Williams’s Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Sherwin-Williams has total assets of US$19b and current liabilities of US$4.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Sherwin-Williams’s ROCE

With that in mind, Sherwin-Williams’s ROCE appears pretty good. Sherwin-Williams 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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 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.