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Examining Kinder Morgan, Inc.’s (NYSE:KMI) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE:KMI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Kinder Morgan:

0.056 = US$4.0b ÷ (US$76b - US$5.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Kinder Morgan has an ROCE of 5.6%.

View our latest analysis for Kinder Morgan

Is Kinder Morgan's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Kinder Morgan's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 8.0% average in the Oil and Gas industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of how Kinder Morgan stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

NYSE:KMI Past Revenue and Net Income, May 8th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. We note Kinder Morgan could be considered a cyclical business. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Kinder Morgan.

Kinder Morgan's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Kinder Morgan has total assets of US$76b and current liabilities of US$5.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 6.6% of its total assets. With barely any current liabilities, there is minimal impact on Kinder Morgan's admittedly low ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Kinder Morgan's ROCE

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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.