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How Good Is CENTROTEC Sustainable AG (ETR:CEV) At Creating Shareholder Value?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at CENTROTEC Sustainable AG (ETR:CEV) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for CENTROTEC Sustainable:

0.071 = €33m ÷ (€615m - €149m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, CENTROTEC Sustainable has an ROCE of 7.1%.

See our latest analysis for CENTROTEC Sustainable

Does CENTROTEC Sustainable Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, CENTROTEC Sustainable's ROCE appears to be around the 7.0% average of the Building industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, CENTROTEC Sustainable'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.

The image below shows how CENTROTEC Sustainable's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

XTRA:CEV Past Revenue and Net Income, January 26th 2020

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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for CENTROTEC Sustainable.

How CENTROTEC Sustainable'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 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.

CENTROTEC Sustainable has total assets of €615m and current liabilities of €149m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 24% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From CENTROTEC Sustainable's ROCE

If CENTROTEC Sustainable 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.