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Is GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft (FRA:G1A) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

David Rizzo

Today we’ll evaluate GEA Group Aktiengesellschaft (FRA:G1A) 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. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its 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. 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’.

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 GEA Group:

0.068 = €296m ÷ (€6.1b – €2.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, GEA Group has an ROCE of 6.8%.

Check out our latest analysis for GEA Group

Does GEA Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, GEA Group’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 11% average in the Machinery industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, GEA Group’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.


DB:G1A Last Perf January 24th 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 deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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.

GEA Group’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 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.

GEA Group has total liabilities of €2.2b and total assets of €6.1b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. GEA Group’s middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

The Bottom Line On GEA Group’s ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. 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.