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Today we'll look at Caesarstone Ltd. (NASDAQ:CSTE) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from 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.'
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 Caesarstone:
0.087 = US$44m ÷ (US$617m - US$111m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
So, Caesarstone has an ROCE of 8.7%.
Is Caesarstone's ROCE Good?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, Caesarstone's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 15% average reported by the Building industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Caesarstone's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.
Caesarstone's current ROCE of 8.7% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 22%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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 only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
Do Caesarstone's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Caesarstone has total assets of US$617m and current liabilities of US$111m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.
The Bottom Line On Caesarstone's ROCE
If Caesarstone continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.