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# How Do Indra Sistemas, S.A.’s (BME:IDR) Returns On Capital Compare To Peers?

Today we are going to look at Indra Sistemas, S.A. (BME:IDR) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

### Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.'

### 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 Indra Sistemas:

0.085 = €207m ÷ (€4.2b - €1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Indra Sistemas has an ROCE of 8.5%.

### Does Indra Sistemas Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Indra Sistemas's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 13% average in the IT industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Aside from the industry comparison, Indra Sistemas's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Indra Sistemas has an ROCE of 8.5%, but it didn't have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That implies the business has been improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Indra Sistemas's past growth compares to other companies.

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Indra Sistemas.

### What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Indra Sistemas's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Indra Sistemas has total liabilities of €1.8b and total assets of €4.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 42% of its total assets. Indra Sistemas has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

### What We Can Learn From Indra Sistemas's ROCE

With this level of liabilities and a mediocre ROCE, there are potentially better investments out there. 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 Indra Sistemas 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.