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Are Heineken N.V.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Heineken N.V. (AMS:HEIA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Firstly, 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.

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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Heineken:

0.10 = €3.3b ÷ (€42b - €10b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Heineken has an ROCE of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Heineken

Is Heineken's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Heineken's ROCE appears to be around the 9.8% average of the Beverage industry. Regardless of where Heineken sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

ENXTAM:HEIA Past Revenue and Net Income, June 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 deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Heineken.

Do Heineken'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 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.

Heineken has total liabilities of €10b and total assets of €42b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 25% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Heineken's ROCE

With that in mind, Heineken's ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Heineken out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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