U.S. Markets close in 32 mins

Should You Care About Premier Oil plc’s (LON:PMO) Investment Potential?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Premier Oil plc (LON:PMO) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE 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. 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Premier Oil:

0.10 = US$570m ÷ (US$6.3b - US$578m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Premier Oil has an ROCE of 10.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Premier Oil

Does Premier Oil Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Premier Oil's ROCE appears to be around the 10% average of the Oil and Gas industry. Separate from Premier Oil's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

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

LSE:PMO Past Revenue and Net Income, December 5th 2019

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 misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Given the industry it operates in, Premier Oil could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Premier Oil'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 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Premier Oil has total assets of US$6.3b and current liabilities of US$578m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.2% of its total assets. Low current liabilities have only a minimal impact on Premier Oil's ROCE, making its decent returns more credible.

The Bottom Line On Premier Oil's ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, Premier Oil seems worth researching further. Premier Oil looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

I will like Premier Oil better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, 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.