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Is Aperam S.A.’s (AMS:APAM) 12% Return On Capital Employed Good News?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Aperam S.A. (AMS:APAM) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Aperam:

0.12 = €361m ÷ (€4.3b - €1.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Aperam has an ROCE of 12%.

Check out our latest analysis for Aperam

Does Aperam Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Aperam's ROCE is around the 10% average reported by the Metals and Mining industry. Separate from Aperam's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

ENXTAM:APAM Past Revenue and Net Income, April 20th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Remember that most companies like Aperam are cyclical businesses. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Aperam.

How Aperam's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Aperam has total liabilities of €1.3b and total assets of €4.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 30% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Aperam's ROCE

Overall, Aperam has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Aperam shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.