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Is Detour Gold Corporation’s (TSE:DGC) 3.5% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Detour Gold Corporation (TSE:DGC) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. 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?

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 Detour Gold:

0.035 = US$85m ÷ (US$2.5b - US$113m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Detour Gold has an ROCE of 3.5%.

See our latest analysis for Detour Gold

Is Detour Gold's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Detour Gold's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 2.8% average in the Metals and Mining industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of how Detour Gold stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

In our analysis, Detour Gold's ROCE appears to be 3.5%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 1.6%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Detour Gold's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSX:DGC Past Revenue and Net Income, August 12th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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, Detour Gold could be considered cyclical. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Detour Gold.

Do Detour Gold's Current Liabilities Skew 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.

Detour Gold has total assets of US$2.5b and current liabilities of US$113m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 4.4% of its total assets. Detour Gold has very few current liabilities, which have a minimal effect on its already low ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Detour Gold's ROCE

Still, investors could probably find more attractive prospects with better performance out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Detour Gold. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will 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.