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How Do Crew Energy Inc.’s (TSE:CR) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Crew Energy Inc. (TSE:CR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of 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 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. 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'.

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 Crew Energy:

0.04 = CA$57m ÷ (CA$1.4b - CA$36m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Crew Energy has an ROCE of 4.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Crew Energy

Does Crew Energy Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Crew Energy's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 5.6% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Putting aside Crew Energy's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Crew Energy reported an ROCE of 4.0% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That suggests the business has returned to profitability. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Crew Energy's past growth compares to other companies.

TSX:CR Past Revenue and Net Income, September 25th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. Given the industry it operates in, Crew Energy could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Crew Energy's Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Crew Energy has total assets of CA$1.4b and current liabilities of CA$36m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 2.5% of its total assets. Crew Energy has very few current liabilities, which have a minimal effect on its already low ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Crew Energy's ROCE

Nonetheless, there may be better places to invest your capital. 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).

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.