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Are Enagás, S.A.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Enagás, S.A. (BME:ENG) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Enagás:

0.074 = €594m ÷ (€8.5b - €462m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Enagás has an ROCE of 7.4%.

Check out our latest analysis for Enagás

Does Enagás Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Enagás's ROCE appears to be around the 7.7% average of the Gas Utilities industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Enagás's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

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

BME:ENG Past Revenue and Net Income, December 9th 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, 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.

How Enagás's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Enagás has total liabilities of €462m and total assets of €8.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 5.5% of its total assets. Enagás reports few current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its unremarkable ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Enagás's ROCE

If performance improves, then Enagás may be an OK investment, especially at the right valuation. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Enagás. 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).

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.