Today we are going to look at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (NYSE:HPE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. 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. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’
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 Hewlett Packard Enterprise:
0.067 = US$2.4b ÷ (US$52b – US$16b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to January 2019.)
Therefore, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has an ROCE of 6.7%.
Is Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s ROCE Good?
When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 13% average reported by the Tech industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Aside from the industry comparison, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.
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, 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 Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Do Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise has total liabilities of US$16b and total assets of US$52b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.
Our Take On Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s ROCE
Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. 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 Hewlett Packard Enterprise better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.