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Berry Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ:BRY) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Berry Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ:BRY) 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.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 Berry Petroleum:

0.16 = US$237m ÷ (US$1.7b - US$135m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Berry Petroleum has an ROCE of 16%.

See our latest analysis for Berry Petroleum

Does Berry Petroleum Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Berry Petroleum's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.3% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Berry Petroleum sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Berry Petroleum reported an ROCE of 16% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That implies the business has been improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Berry Petroleum's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:BRY Past Revenue and Net Income, October 7th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. We note Berry Petroleum could be considered a cyclical business. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Berry Petroleum's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Berry Petroleum has total liabilities of US$135m and total assets of US$1.7b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 8.1% of its total assets. In addition to low current liabilities (making a negligible impact on ROCE), Berry Petroleum earns a sound return on capital employed.

The Bottom Line On Berry Petroleum's ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, Berry Petroleum seems worth researching further. Berry Petroleum 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.

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.