Is OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE:OGE) Better Than Average At Deploying Capital?

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Today we are going to look at OGE Energy Corp. (NYSE:OGE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

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

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 OGE Energy:

0.051 = US$510m ÷ (US$11b – US$841m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, OGE Energy has an ROCE of 5.1%.

See our latest analysis for OGE Energy

Does OGE Energy Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that OGE Energy’s ROCE is fairly close to the Electric Utilities industry average of 4.9%. Independently of how OGE Energy compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

NYSE:OGE Past Revenue and Net Income, February 22nd 2019
NYSE:OGE Past Revenue and Net Income, February 22nd 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during 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.

Do OGE Energy’s Current Liabilities Skew Its 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

OGE Energy has total liabilities of US$841m and total assets of US$11b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 7.9% of its total assets. With barely any current liabilities, there is minimal impact on OGE Energy’s admittedly low ROCE.

What We Can Learn From OGE Energy’s ROCE

Still, investors could probably find more attractive prospects with better performance out there. But note: OGE Energy 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.