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Is DTE Energy Company (NYSE:DTE) Better Than Average At Deploying Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at DTE Energy Company (NYSE:DTE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 DTE Energy:

0.049 = US$1.6b ÷ (US$37b - US$3.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, DTE Energy has an ROCE of 4.9%.

View our latest analysis for DTE Energy

Is DTE Energy's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, DTE Energy's ROCE appears to be around the 4.9% average of the Integrated Utilities industry. Regardless of how DTE Energy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how DTE Energy's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:DTE Past Revenue and Net Income, September 13th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

DTE Energy's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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.

DTE Energy has total liabilities of US$3.7b and total assets of US$37b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.9% of its total assets. DTE Energy has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

Our Take On DTE Energy's ROCE

Still, investors could probably find more attractive prospects with better performance out there. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than DTE Energy. 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.