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How Do Entergy Corporation’s (NYSE:ETR) Returns On Capital Compare To Peers?

Liliana Gabriel

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Today we’ll look at Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Entergy:

0.032 = US$1.9b ÷ (US$48b – US$5.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Entergy has an ROCE of 3.2%.

View our latest analysis for Entergy

Is Entergy’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Entergy’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 5.0% average reported by the Electric Utilities industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Independently of how Entergy compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

As we can see, Entergy currently has an ROCE of 3.2%, less than the 4.7% it reported 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges.

NYSE:ETR Last Perf February 14th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Entergy.

How Entergy’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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Entergy has total liabilities of US$5.8b and total assets of US$48b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

Our Take On Entergy’s ROCE

Entergy has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. You might be able to find a better buy than Entergy. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.