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What Can We Make Of Elisa Oyj’s (HEL:ELISA) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Elisa Oyj (HEL:ELISA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

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 Elisa Oyj:

0.18 = €391m ÷ (€2.8b - €651m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Elisa Oyj has an ROCE of 18%.

Check out our latest analysis for Elisa Oyj

Is Elisa Oyj's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Elisa Oyj's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.6% average in the Telecom 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 Elisa Oyj 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 Elisa Oyj's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

HLSE:ELISA Past Revenue and Net Income, September 19th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Elisa Oyj.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Elisa Oyj's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Elisa Oyj has total assets of €2.8b and current liabilities of €651m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 23% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Elisa Oyj's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Elisa Oyj could be worth a closer look. Elisa Oyj 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.

I will like Elisa Oyj 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.