U.S. Markets closed

Are Alliant Energy Corporation’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Alliant Energy Corporation (NASDAQ:LNT) 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.

Firstly, 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.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

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

Or for Alliant Energy:

0.049 = US$689m ÷ (US$16b - US$1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Alliant Energy has an ROCE of 4.9%.

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

Check out our latest analysis for Alliant Energy

Does Alliant Energy Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Alliant Energy's ROCE appears to be around the 4.7% average of the Electric Utilities industry. Regardless of how Alliant Energy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

NasdaqGS:LNT Past Revenue and Net Income, May 21st 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 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.

Alliant Energy's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Alliant Energy has total assets of US$16b and current liabilities of US$1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 10% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Alliant Energy's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Alliant Energy has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. You might be able to find a better investment than Alliant Energy. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.