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Examining Kosmos Energy Ltd.’s (NYSE:KOS) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Kosmos Energy Ltd. (NYSE:KOS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

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 Kosmos Energy:

0.045 = US$182m ÷ (US$4.5b - US$443m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Kosmos Energy has an ROCE of 4.5%.

View our latest analysis for Kosmos Energy

Does Kosmos Energy Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Kosmos Energy's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 8.2% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Regardless of how Kosmos Energy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

In our analysis, Kosmos Energy's ROCE appears to be 4.5%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 1.3%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Kosmos Energy's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:KOS Past Revenue and Net Income, October 21st 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Given the industry it operates in, Kosmos Energy could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Kosmos Energy's Current Liabilities Skew 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. 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.

Kosmos Energy has total liabilities of US$443m and total assets of US$4.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 9.9% of its total assets. Kosmos Energy has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Kosmos Energy's ROCE

Nevertheless, there are potentially more attractive companies to invest in. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Kosmos Energy better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.