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Here’s What Cairo Communication S.p.A.’s (BIT:CAI) Return On Capital Can Tell Us

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Today we'll evaluate Cairo Communication S.p.A. (BIT:CAI) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

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 Cairo Communication:

0.094 = €127m ÷ (€1.5b - €164m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Cairo Communication has an ROCE of 9.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cairo Communication

Is Cairo Communication's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Cairo Communication's ROCE is around the 9.4% average reported by the Media industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Cairo Communication'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.

We can see that , Cairo Communication currently has an ROCE of 9.4% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 5.5%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Cairo Communication's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

BIT:CAI Past Revenue and Net Income, July 20th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. 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.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Cairo Communication's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Cairo Communication has total liabilities of €164m and total assets of €1.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Cairo Communication's ROCE

If Cairo Communication continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Cairo Communication. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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 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.