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Here's What WashTec AG's (ETR:WSU) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate WashTec AG (ETR:WSU) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the 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 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'.

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 WashTec:

0.35 = €38m ÷ (€271m - €163m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, WashTec has an ROCE of 35%.

View our latest analysis for WashTec

Is WashTec's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, WashTec's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.3% average in the Machinery industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, WashTec's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how WashTec's past growth compares to other companies.

XTRA:WSU Past Revenue and Net Income, January 24th 2020

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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for WashTec.

How WashTec's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

WashTec has total assets of €271m and current liabilities of €163m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 60% of its total assets. WashTec boasts an attractive ROCE, even after considering the boost from high current liabilities.

Our Take On WashTec's ROCE

In my book, this business could be worthy of further research. WashTec 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.

If you are like me, then you will 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.