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A Close Look At Augean plc’s (LON:AUG) 20% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Augean plc (LON:AUG) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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 measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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'.

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 Augean:

0.20 = UK£16m ÷ (UK£111m - UK£32m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Augean has an ROCE of 20%.

View our latest analysis for Augean

Does Augean Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Augean's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the Commercial Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Augean's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Our data shows that Augean currently has an ROCE of 20%, compared to its ROCE of 8.9% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Augean's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

AIM:AUG Past Revenue and Net Income, November 16th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Augean's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Augean has total liabilities of UK£32m and total assets of UK£111m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 28% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won't have much impact on the already great ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Augean's ROCE

, Augean shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.