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CSE Global Limited (SGX:544) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate CSE Global Limited (SGX:544) 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.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 CSE Global:

0.14 = S$26m ÷ (S$276m - S$96m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, CSE Global has an ROCE of 14%.

See our latest analysis for CSE Global

Is CSE Global's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. CSE Global's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 10% average in the IT industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of where CSE Global sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how CSE Global's past growth compares to other companies.

SGX:544 Past Revenue and Net Income, October 2nd 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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 only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do CSE Global's Current Liabilities Skew 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

CSE Global has total liabilities of S$96m and total assets of S$276m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 35% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, CSE Global's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

What We Can Learn From CSE Global's ROCE

With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. CSE Global looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.