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Are Domtar Corporation’s (NYSE:UFS) Returns Worth Your While?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Domtar Corporation (NYSE:UFS) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Domtar:

0.11 = US$467m ÷ (US$5.0b - US$753m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Domtar has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Domtar

Does Domtar Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Domtar's ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Forestry industry. Regardless of where Domtar sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

We can see that , Domtar currently has an ROCE of 11% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 6.1%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Domtar's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:UFS Past Revenue and Net Income, July 22nd 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Domtar.

How Domtar's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Domtar has total liabilities of US$753m and total assets of US$5.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Domtar's ROCE

With that in mind, Domtar's ROCE appears pretty good. Domtar looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

I will like Domtar 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 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.