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How Good Is Krones AG (ETR:KRN) At Creating Shareholder Value?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Krones AG (ETR:KRN) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

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.

What is 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. 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 Krones:

0.082 = €151m ÷ (€3.4b - €1.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Krones has an ROCE of 8.2%.

Check out our latest analysis for Krones

Does Krones Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Krones's ROCE appears to be around the 9.4% average of the Machinery industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Krones'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.

We can see that, Krones currently has an ROCE of 8.2%, less than the 17% it reported 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Krones's past growth compares to other companies.

XTRA:KRN Past Revenue and Net Income, October 11th 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Krones.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Krones's ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Krones has total assets of €3.4b and current liabilities of €1.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 46% of its total assets. Krones's ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

What We Can Learn From Krones's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. You might be able to find a better investment than Krones. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.