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Gibson Energy Inc. (TSE:GEI) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

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Today we'll evaluate Gibson Energy Inc. (TSE:GEI) 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Gibson Energy:

0.12 = CA$287m ÷ (CA$3.0b - CA$655m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Gibson Energy has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Gibson Energy

Does Gibson Energy Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Gibson Energy's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 5.5% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Gibson Energy compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

We can see that , Gibson Energy currently has an ROCE of 12% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 0.5%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how Gibson Energy's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

TSX:GEI Past Revenue and Net Income, July 3rd 2019

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Given the industry it operates in, Gibson Energy 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 Gibson Energy.

How Gibson Energy's Current Liabilities Impact 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 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Gibson Energy has total assets of CA$3.0b and current liabilities of CA$655m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Gibson Energy's ROCE

With that in mind, Gibson Energy's ROCE appears pretty good. Gibson Energy 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.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.