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Is Accor SA’s (EPA:AC) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Accor SA (EPA:AC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Accor:

0.055 = €582m ÷ (€13b - €2.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Accor has an ROCE of 5.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for Accor

Does Accor Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Accor's ROCE appears to be around the 6.8% average of the Hospitality industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Accor's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

We can see that, Accor currently has an ROCE of 5.5% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 3.6%. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Accor's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

ENXTPA:AC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 23rd 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. 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 Accor'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.

Accor has total liabilities of €2.4b and total assets of €13b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Accor's ROCE

If Accor continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Accor. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Accor better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.