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Is Eagle Materials Inc.’s (NYSE:EXP) 12% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Eagle Materials Inc. (NYSE:EXP) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Eagle Materials:

0.12 = US$263m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$195m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Eagle Materials has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Eagle Materials

Does Eagle Materials Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Eagle Materials's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.8% average in the Basic Materials industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Eagle Materials sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

The image below shows how Eagle Materials's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:EXP Past Revenue and Net Income, January 21st 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Eagle Materials's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Eagle Materials has total liabilities of US$195m and total assets of US$2.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 8.4% of its total assets. With low current liabilities, Eagle Materials's decent ROCE looks that much more respectable.

The Bottom Line On Eagle Materials's ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, Eagle Materials seems worth researching further. Eagle Materials shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.