Is Gravity Co., Ltd.’s (NASDAQ:GRVY) 36% ROCE Any Good?

Today we are going to look at Gravity Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRVY) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

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

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’.

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 Gravity:

0.36 = ₩14b ÷ (₩99b – ₩34b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Gravity has an ROCE of 36%.

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Does Gravity Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Gravity’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.9% average in the Entertainment industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Gravity’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

Gravity reported an ROCE of 36% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NasdaqGM:GRVY Last Perf January 15th 19
NasdaqGM:GRVY Last Perf January 15th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. If Gravity is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Gravity’s ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Gravity has total assets of ₩99b and current liabilities of ₩34b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 34% of its total assets. Gravity has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Gravity’s ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. But note: Gravity 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).

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

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.