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Do Brambles Limited’s (ASX:BXB) Returns On Capital Employed Make The Cut?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Brambles Limited (ASX:BXB) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. 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.

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 Brambles:

0.16 = US$935m ÷ (US$7.7b - US$1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Brambles has an ROCE of 16%.

Check out our latest analysis for Brambles

Does Brambles Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Brambles's ROCE is around the 16% average reported by the Commercial Services industry. Regardless of where Brambles sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can see in the image below how Brambles's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ASX:BXB Past Revenue and Net Income, January 1st 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Brambles.

Do Brambles's Current Liabilities Skew 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Brambles has total assets of US$7.7b and current liabilities of US$1.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Brambles's ROCE

Overall, Brambles has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Brambles 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.

Brambles is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider 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.