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Should Finning International Inc.’s (TSE:FTT) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Ashwin Virk

Today we’ll evaluate Finning International Inc. (TSE:FTT) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Finning International:

0.13 = CA$390m ÷ (CA$5.4b – CA$1.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Finning International has an ROCE of 13%.

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Does Finning International Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Finning International’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 17% average in the Trade Distributors industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Regardless of where Finning International sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.


TSX:FTT Last Perf January 21st 19

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 only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Finning International.

Finning International’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.

Finning International has total liabilities of CA$1.7b and total assets of CA$5.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Finning International has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On Finning International’s ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it’s worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.