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Does Global Payments Inc. (NYSE:GPN) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Global Payments Inc. (NYSE:GPN) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Global Payments:

0.086 = US$867m ÷ (US$15b - US$4.5b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Global Payments has an ROCE of 8.6%.

See our latest analysis for Global Payments

Is Global Payments's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Global Payments's ROCE appears to be around the 10% average of the IT industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Global Payments's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Our data shows that Global Payments currently has an ROCE of 8.6%, compared to its ROCE of 6.0% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Global Payments's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:GPN Past Revenue and Net Income, October 4th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. 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 Global Payments.

Global Payments'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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Global Payments has total assets of US$15b and current liabilities of US$4.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 31% of its total assets. Global Payments's ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Global Payments's ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Global Payments. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.