Is El Paso Electric Company (NYSE:EE) Creating Value For Shareholders?

Today we’ll look at El Paso Electric Company (NYSE:EE) 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.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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’.

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 El Paso Electric:

0.053 = US$175m ÷ (US$3.6b – US$313m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, El Paso Electric has an ROCE of 5.3%.

See our latest analysis for El Paso Electric

Does El Paso Electric Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see El Paso Electric’s ROCE is around the 4.8% average reported by the Electric Utilities industry. Putting aside El Paso Electric’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor – considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

NYSE:EE Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 2019
NYSE:EE Past Revenue and Net Income, April 15th 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect El Paso Electric’s ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

El Paso Electric has total assets of US$3.6b and current liabilities of US$313m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 8.6% of its total assets. El Paso Electric has very few current liabilities, which have a minimal effect on its already low ROCE.

What We Can Learn From El Paso Electric’s ROCE

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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.