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Are China Suntien Green Energy Corporation Limited’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate China Suntien Green Energy Corporation Limited (HKG:956) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Suntien Green Energy:

0.074 = CN¥2.2b ÷ (CN¥39b - CN¥8.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, China Suntien Green Energy has an ROCE of 7.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for China Suntien Green Energy

Does China Suntien Green Energy Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that China Suntien Green Energy's ROCE is fairly close to the Oil and Gas industry average of 7.3%. Separate from how China Suntien Green Energy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Our data shows that China Suntien Green Energy currently has an ROCE of 7.4%, compared to its ROCE of 2.9% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how China Suntien Green Energy's past growth compares to other companies.

SEHK:956 Past Revenue and Net Income, July 21st 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. We note China Suntien Green Energy could be considered a cyclical business. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for China Suntien Green Energy.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect China Suntien Green Energy's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

China Suntien Green Energy has total assets of CN¥39b and current liabilities of CN¥8.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% 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 Suntien Green Energy's ROCE

That said, China Suntien Green Energy's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.