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Should GasLog Ltd.’s (NYSE:GLOG) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at GasLog Ltd. (NYSE:GLOG) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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.'

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 GasLog:

0.065 = US$293m ÷ (US$5.2b - US$669m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, GasLog has an ROCE of 6.5%.

View our latest analysis for GasLog

Does GasLog Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see GasLog's ROCE is meaningfully below the Oil and Gas industry average of 9.2%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, GasLog's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

As we can see, GasLog currently has an ROCE of 6.5% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 4.7%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NYSE:GLOG Past Revenue and Net Income, May 2nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. Given the industry it operates in, GasLog could be considered cyclical. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for GasLog.

Do GasLog's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

GasLog has total assets of US$5.2b and current liabilities of US$669m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On GasLog's ROCE

If GasLog continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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.

I will like GasLog 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.