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Aiton Caldwell SA (WSE:AIT) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Aiton Caldwell SA (WSE:AIT) 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.

Firstly, 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.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Aiton Caldwell:

0.097 = zł787k ÷ (zł11m - zł2.7m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Aiton Caldwell has an ROCE of 9.7%.

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Does Aiton Caldwell Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Aiton Caldwell's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 3.4% average in the Telecom industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Aside from the industry comparison, Aiton Caldwell'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.

Aiton Caldwell's current ROCE of 9.7% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 18%, 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

WSE:AIT Past Revenue and Net Income, May 20th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. How cyclical is Aiton Caldwell? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Aiton Caldwell's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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.

Aiton Caldwell has total assets of zł11m and current liabilities of zł2.7m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 25% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Aiton Caldwell's ROCE

If Aiton Caldwell continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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

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.