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Gran Tierra Energy Inc. (NYSEMKT:GTE) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Bryson Sharp

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Today we’ll evaluate Gran Tierra Energy Inc. (NYSEMKT:GTE) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. 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 measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Gran Tierra Energy:

0.14 = US$115m ÷ (US$1.8b – US$209m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Gran Tierra Energy has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Gran Tierra Energy

Does Gran Tierra Energy Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Gran Tierra Energy’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 6.2% 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. Regardless of where Gran Tierra Energy sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Gran Tierra Energy reported an ROCE of 14% — better than 3 years ago, when the company didn’t make a profit. That suggests the business has returned to profitability.

AMEX:GTE Last Perf February 14th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Given the industry it operates in, Gran Tierra Energy could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Gran Tierra Energy’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Gran Tierra Energy has total assets of US$1.8b and current liabilities of US$209m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Gran Tierra Energy’s ROCE

With that in mind, Gran Tierra Energy’s ROCE appears pretty good. 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.

I will like Gran Tierra Energy better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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 editorial-team@simplywallst.com.