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Examining Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd.’s (HKG:1618) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. (HKG:1618) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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?

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 Metallurgical Corporation of China:

0.093 = CN¥14b ÷ (CN¥457b - CN¥307b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Metallurgical Corporation of China has an ROCE of 9.3%.

View our latest analysis for Metallurgical Corporation of China

Does Metallurgical Corporation of China Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Metallurgical Corporation of China's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 12% average in the Construction industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Separate from how Metallurgical Corporation of China stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

The image below shows how Metallurgical Corporation of China's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

SEHK:1618 Past Revenue and Net Income, November 10th 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Metallurgical Corporation of China'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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Metallurgical Corporation of China has total liabilities of CN¥307b and total assets of CN¥457b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 67% of its total assets. Metallurgical Corporation of China's current liabilities are fairly high, making its ROCE look better than otherwise.

Our Take On Metallurgical Corporation of China's ROCE

Despite this, the company also has a uninspiring ROCE, which is not an ideal combination in this analysis. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Metallurgical Corporation of China. 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.