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Is CSR Limited’s (ASX:CSR) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at CSR Limited (ASX:CSR) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.

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 CSR:

0.11 = AU$185m ÷ (AU$2.1b - AU$477m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, CSR has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for CSR

Is CSR's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, CSR's ROCE appears to be around the 9.6% average of the Basic Materials industry. Separate from CSR's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

You can see in the image below how CSR's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ASX:CSR Past Revenue and Net Income, December 4th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for CSR.

CSR's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

CSR has total assets of AU$2.1b and current liabilities of AU$477m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From CSR's ROCE

Overall, CSR has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than CSR out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

CSR is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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.