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Is China Maple Leaf Educational Systems Limited’s (HKG:1317) 12% Return On Capital Employed Good News?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at China Maple Leaf Educational Systems Limited (HKG:1317) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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?

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 China Maple Leaf Educational Systems:

0.12 = CN¥488m ÷ (CN¥5.2b - CN¥1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to February 2019.)

So, China Maple Leaf Educational Systems has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for China Maple Leaf Educational Systems

Does China Maple Leaf Educational Systems Have A Good ROCE?

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

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how China Maple Leaf Educational Systems's past growth compares to other companies.

SEHK:1317 Past Revenue and Net Income, October 1st 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for China Maple Leaf Educational Systems.

China Maple Leaf Educational Systems's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

China Maple Leaf Educational Systems has total assets of CN¥5.2b and current liabilities of CN¥1.1b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On China Maple Leaf Educational Systems's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, China Maple Leaf Educational Systems could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than China Maple Leaf Educational Systems out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.