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How Do Delticom AG’s (ETR:DEX) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Sebastian Eder

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Today we are going to look at Delticom AG (ETR:DEX) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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’.

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 Delticom:

0.034 = €3.0m ÷ (€220m – €159m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Delticom has an ROCE of 3.4%.

View our latest analysis for Delticom

Is Delticom’s ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Delticom’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 5.5% average in the Online Retail industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, Delticom’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

As we can see, Delticom currently has an ROCE of 3.4%, less than the 11% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

XTRA:DEX Last Perf February 13th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Delticom.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Delticom’s ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Delticom has total liabilities of €159m and total assets of €220m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 72% of its total assets. Delticom’s current liabilities are fairly high, making its ROCE look better than otherwise.

Our Take On Delticom’s ROCE

Even so, the company reports a mediocre ROCE, and there may be better investments out there. But note: Delticom may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.