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What Can We Make Of China Silver Group Limited’s (HKG:815) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at China Silver Group Limited (HKG:815) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Silver Group:

0.094 = CN¥328m ÷ (CN¥4.3b - CN¥763m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, China Silver Group has an ROCE of 9.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for China Silver Group

Is China Silver Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that China Silver Group's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 7.8% average in the Metals and Mining industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from how China Silver Group stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

We can see that, China Silver Group currently has an ROCE of 9.4% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 5.3%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how China Silver Group's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

SEHK:815 Past Revenue and Net Income, January 16th 2020

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Given the industry it operates in, China Silver Group could be considered cyclical. How cyclical is China Silver Group? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

China Silver Group's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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.

China Silver Group has total liabilities of CN¥763m and total assets of CN¥4.3b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From China Silver Group's ROCE

If China Silver Group 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 China Silver Group. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.