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Is GeoPark Limited’s (NYSE:GPRK) 43% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate GeoPark Limited (NYSE:GPRK) 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. 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.

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

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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 GeoPark:

0.43 = US$273m ÷ (US$815m - US$177m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, GeoPark has an ROCE of 43%.

Check out our latest analysis for GeoPark

Does GeoPark Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that GeoPark's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.3% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, GeoPark's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

GeoPark delivered an ROCE of 43%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That suggests the business has returned to profitability. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how GeoPark's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:GPRK Past Revenue and Net Income, August 30th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Remember that most companies like GeoPark are cyclical businesses. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for GeoPark.

GeoPark's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

GeoPark has total assets of US$815m and current liabilities of US$177m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

Our Take On GeoPark's ROCE

Low current liabilities and high ROCE is a good combination, making GeoPark look quite interesting. GeoPark looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.