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Evaluating Acerinox, S.A.’s (BME:ACX) Investments In Its Business

Luis Baughman

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Today we’ll look at Acerinox, S.A. (BME:ACX) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the 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.’

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 Acerinox:

0.11 = €315m ÷ (€4.8b – €1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Acerinox has an ROCE of 11%.

See our latest analysis for Acerinox

Is Acerinox’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. It appears that Acerinox’s ROCE is fairly close to the Metals and Mining industry average of 11%. Separate from Acerinox’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

As we can see, Acerinox currently has an ROCE of 11% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 5.6%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

BME:ACX Last Perf February 4th 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Remember that most companies like Acerinox are cyclical businesses. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Acerinox.

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

Acerinox has total assets of €4.8b and current liabilities of €1.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 29% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Acerinox’s ROCE

Overall, Acerinox has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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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.