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Does Carlsberg A/S (CPH:CARL B) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Carlsberg A/S (CPH:CARL B) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.'

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 Carlsberg:

0.11 = ø9.1b ÷ (ø118b - ø34b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Carlsberg has an ROCE of 11%.

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Does Carlsberg Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Carlsberg's ROCE appears to be around the 9.4% average of the Beverage industry. Separate from Carlsberg's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

As we can see, Carlsberg currently has an ROCE of 11% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 8.3%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

CPSE:CARL B Past Revenue and Net Income, May 24th 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 deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Carlsberg.

Do Carlsberg'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 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.

Carlsberg has total assets of ø118b and current liabilities of ø34b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 29% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Carlsberg's ROCE

With that in mind, Carlsberg's ROCE appears pretty good. Carlsberg shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.