Genie Energy (NYSE:GNE) May Have Issues Allocating Its Capital

By
Simply Wall St
Published
November 05, 2021
NYSE:GNE
Source: Shutterstock

If we're looking to avoid a business that is in decline, what are the trends that can warn us ahead of time? More often than not, we'll see a declining return on capital employed (ROCE) and a declining amount of capital employed. This combination can tell you that not only is the company investing less, it's earning less on what it does invest. So after we looked into Genie Energy (NYSE:GNE), the trends above didn't look too great.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

Just to clarify if you're unsure, ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Analysts use this formula to calculate it for Genie Energy:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

0.032 = US$2.9m ÷ (US$185m - US$95m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2021).

So, Genie Energy has an ROCE of 3.2%. Ultimately, that's a low return and it under-performs the Electric Utilities industry average of 4.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for Genie Energy

roce
NYSE:GNE Return on Capital Employed November 6th 2021

While the past is not representative of the future, it can be helpful to know how a company has performed historically, which is why we have this chart above. If you want to delve into the historical earnings, revenue and cash flow of Genie Energy, check out these free graphs here.

What The Trend Of ROCE Can Tell Us

We are a bit anxious about the trends of ROCE at Genie Energy. Unfortunately, returns have declined substantially over the last five years to the 3.2% we see today. What's equally concerning is that the amount of capital deployed in the business has shrunk by 28% over that same period. When you see both ROCE and capital employed diminishing, it can often be a sign of a mature and shrinking business that might be in structural decline. If these underlying trends continue, we wouldn't be too optimistic going forward.

On a side note, Genie Energy's current liabilities have increased over the last five years to 51% of total assets, effectively distorting the ROCE to some degree. If current liabilities hadn't increased as much as they did, the ROCE could actually be even lower. What this means is that in reality, a rather large portion of the business is being funded by the likes of the company's suppliers or short-term creditors, which can bring some risks of its own.

Our Take On Genie Energy's ROCE

In short, lower returns and decreasing amounts capital employed in the business doesn't fill us with confidence. Investors must expect better things on the horizon though because the stock has risen 3.3% in the last five years. Either way, we aren't huge fans of the current trends and so with that we think you might find better investments elsewhere.

One more thing to note, we've identified 2 warning signs with Genie Energy and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

While Genie Energy may not currently earn the highest returns, we've compiled a list of companies that currently earn more than 25% return on equity. Check out this free list here.

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