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Eutelsat Communications S.A.’s (EPA:ETL) Investment Returns Are Lagging Its Industry

Audra Newberry

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Today we’ll look at Eutelsat Communications S.A. (EPA:ETL) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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?

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 Eutelsat Communications:

0.073 = €552m ÷ (€8.4b – €1.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Eutelsat Communications has an ROCE of 7.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Eutelsat Communications

Is Eutelsat Communications’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Eutelsat Communications’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 10% average reported by the Media industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Eutelsat Communications’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.

ENXTPA:ETL Past Revenue and Net Income, February 20th 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. 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 Eutelsat Communications’s ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Eutelsat Communications has total assets of €8.4b and current liabilities of €1.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Eutelsat Communications’s ROCE

If Eutelsat Communications continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. You might be able to find a better buy than Eutelsat Communications. 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.

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.