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Is Fielmann Aktiengesellschaft’s (ETR:FIE) 31% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Fielmann Aktiengesellschaft (ETR:FIE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.

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 Fielmann:

0.31 = €321m ÷ (€1.4b - €320m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Fielmann has an ROCE of 31%.

See our latest analysis for Fielmann

Is Fielmann's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Fielmann's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 6.8% average in the Specialty Retail industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Fielmann's ROCE is currently very good.

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

XTRA:FIE Past Revenue and Net Income, January 1st 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Fielmann.

How Fielmann's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Fielmann has total assets of €1.4b and current liabilities of €320m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won't have much impact on the already great ROCE.

Our Take On Fielmann's ROCE

, Fielmann shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.