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Here's What Lifco AB (publ)'s (STO:LIFCO B) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Lifco AB (publ) (STO:LIFCO B) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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'.

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 Lifco:

0.21 = kr2.1b ÷ (kr17b - kr7.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Lifco has an ROCE of 21%.

Check out our latest analysis for Lifco

Does Lifco Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Lifco's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 5.2% average in the Industrials industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Lifco's ROCE is currently very good.

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

OM:LIFCO B Past Revenue and Net Income, November 30th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during 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 Lifco.

How Lifco's Current Liabilities Impact Its 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.

Lifco has total liabilities of kr7.2b and total assets of kr17b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 41% of its total assets. Lifco has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Lifco's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. Lifco looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.