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How Do Deutsche Telekom AG’s (FRA:DTE) Returns Compare To Its Industry?

Gerald Huddleston

Today we are going to look at Deutsche Telekom AG (FRA:DTE) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. 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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

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 Deutsche Telekom:

0.079 = €9.2b ÷ (€142b – €24b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Deutsche Telekom has an ROCE of 7.9%.

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Is Deutsche Telekom’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Deutsche Telekom’s ROCE is around the 6.8% average reported by the Telecom industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Deutsche Telekom’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.


DB:DTE Last Perf January 14th 19

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 deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Deutsche Telekom’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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Deutsche Telekom has total assets of €142b and current liabilities of €24b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 17% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Deutsche Telekom’s ROCE

If Deutsche Telekom continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Deutsche Telekom. 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.

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.