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A Close Look At Danaos Corporation’s (NYSE:DAC) 8.2% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Danaos Corporation (NYSE:DAC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

First, 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Danaos:

0.082 = US$201m ÷ (US$2.7b - US$223m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Danaos has an ROCE of 8.2%.

See our latest analysis for Danaos

Is Danaos's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Danaos's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 4.6% average in the Shipping industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from how Danaos 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.

Danaos's current ROCE of 8.2% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 36% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can see in the image below how Danaos's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:DAC Past Revenue and Net Income March 29th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Danaos.

How Danaos'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. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Danaos has total assets of US$2.7b and current liabilities of US$223m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 8.3% of its total assets. Danaos has a low level of current liabilities, which have a minimal impact on its uninspiring ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Danaos's ROCE

Danaos looks like an ok business, but on this analysis it is not at the top of our buy list. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.

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.