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Does Symphony Limited (NSE:SYMPHONY) Create Value For Shareholders?

Today we'll evaluate Symphony Limited (NSE:SYMPHONY) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) Ã· (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Symphony:

0.15 = â‚¹1.2b Ã· (â‚¹11b - â‚¹2.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Symphony has an ROCE of 15%.

Is Symphony's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Symphony's ROCE appears to be around the 15% average of the Consumer Durables industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Symphony's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Symphony's current ROCE of 15% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 53% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can see in the image below how Symphony's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Symphony.

Do Symphony'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.

Symphony has total assets of â‚¹11b and current liabilities of â‚¹2.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 25% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Symphony's ROCE

That said, Symphony's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Symphony. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.