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Is Big River Industries Limited (ASX:BRI) Better Than Average At Deploying Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Big River Industries Limited (ASX:BRI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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. 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 Big River Industries:

0.089 = AU$7.1m ÷ (AU$139m - AU$59m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Big River Industries has an ROCE of 8.9%.

See our latest analysis for Big River Industries

Does Big River Industries Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Big River Industries's ROCE is fairly close to the Forestry industry average of 8.0%. Separate from how Big River Industries stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

The image below shows how Big River Industries's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

ASX:BRI Past Revenue and Net Income, January 9th 2020

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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Big River Industries's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 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.

Big River Industries has total liabilities of AU$59m and total assets of AU$139m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 42% of its total assets. Big River Industries's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

What We Can Learn From Big River Industries's ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Big River Industries. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.