Today we'll look at TIL Enviro Limited (HKG:1790) 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.
First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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'.
So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?
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 TIL Enviro:
0.084 = HK$153m ÷ (HK$2.0b - HK$199m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
Therefore, TIL Enviro has an ROCE of 8.4%.
Is TIL Enviro's ROCE Good?
When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, TIL Enviro's ROCE appears to be around the 9.9% average of the Commercial Services industry. Aside from the industry comparison, TIL Enviro'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.
We can see that , TIL Enviro currently has an ROCE of 8.4%, less than the 13% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can see in the image below how TIL Enviro's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.
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. How cyclical is TIL Enviro? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.
Do TIL Enviro'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.
TIL Enviro has total liabilities of HK$199m and total assets of HK$2.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.9% of its total assets. TIL Enviro has a low level of current liabilities, which have a minimal impact on its uninspiring ROCE.
What We Can Learn From TIL Enviro's ROCE
If performance improves, then TIL Enviro may be an OK investment, especially at the right valuation. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).
I will like TIL Enviro better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.