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Is Atalaya Mining Plc (LON:ATYM) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Atalaya Mining Plc (LON:ATYM) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 Atalaya Mining:

0.10 = €38m ÷ (€439m - €58m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Atalaya Mining has an ROCE of 10%.

Check out our latest analysis for Atalaya Mining

Does Atalaya Mining Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Atalaya Mining's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 13% average reported by the Metals and Mining industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Regardless of where Atalaya Mining sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Atalaya Mining reported an ROCE of 10% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That implies the business has been improving. You can see in the image below how Atalaya Mining's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

AIM:ATYM Past Revenue and Net Income, February 20th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Given the industry it operates in, Atalaya Mining could be considered cyclical. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Atalaya Mining.

How Atalaya Mining's Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Atalaya Mining has total assets of €439m and current liabilities of €58m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Atalaya Mining's ROCE

Overall, Atalaya Mining has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Atalaya Mining 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).

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.