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Is AlzChem Group AG (ETR:ACT) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate AlzChem Group AG (ETR:ACT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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 AlzChem Group:

0.055 = €15m ÷ (€360m - €91m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, AlzChem Group has an ROCE of 5.5%.

See our latest analysis for AlzChem Group

Does AlzChem Group Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, AlzChem Group's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 8.1% average reported by the Chemicals industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Separate from how AlzChem Group stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

We can see that , AlzChem Group currently has an ROCE of 5.5%, less than the 12% it reported 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. The image below shows how AlzChem Group's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

XTRA:ACT Past Revenue and Net Income, September 8th 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for AlzChem Group.

How AlzChem Group's Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

AlzChem Group has total liabilities of €91m and total assets of €360m. 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 AlzChem Group's ROCE

If AlzChem Group continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

I will like AlzChem Group 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.