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Examining Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:XOG) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. (NASDAQ:XOG) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its 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 Extraction Oil & Gas:

0.06 = US$221m ÷ (US$4.3b - US$536m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Extraction Oil & Gas has an ROCE of 6.0%.

View our latest analysis for Extraction Oil & Gas

Is Extraction Oil & Gas's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Extraction Oil & Gas's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 7.9% average in the Oil and Gas industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Extraction Oil & Gas'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.

Extraction Oil & Gas has an ROCE of 6.0%, but it didn't have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Extraction Oil & Gas's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:XOG Past Revenue and Net Income, August 10th 2019

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. We note Extraction Oil & Gas could be considered a cyclical business. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Extraction Oil & Gas's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 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.

Extraction Oil & Gas has total assets of US$4.3b and current liabilities of US$536m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Extraction Oil & Gas's ROCE

That said, Extraction Oil & Gas's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Extraction Oil & Gas. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.