Today we are going to look at MJ Gleeson plc (LON:GLE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.
First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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?
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 MJ Gleeson:
0.19 = UK£37m ÷ (UK£243m – UK£45m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)
So, MJ Gleeson has an ROCE of 19%.
Is MJ Gleeson’s ROCE Good?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that MJ Gleeson’s ROCE is fairly close to the Consumer Durables industry average of 17%. Regardless of where MJ Gleeson sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.
When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for MJ Gleeson.
Do MJ Gleeson’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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.
MJ Gleeson has total assets of UK£243m and current liabilities of UK£45m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.
What We Can Learn From MJ Gleeson’s ROCE
Overall, MJ Gleeson has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. You might be able to find a better buy than MJ Gleeson. 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.