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What Can We Make Of Ingredion Incorporated’s (NYSE:INGR) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE:INGR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Ingredion:

0.14 = US$713m ÷ (US$6.0b - US$894m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Ingredion has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Ingredion

Is Ingredion's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Ingredion's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.2% average in the Food 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. Regardless of where Ingredion sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

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

NYSE:INGR Past Revenue and Net Income, September 9th 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 misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Ingredion's Current Liabilities Skew 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Ingredion has total assets of US$6.0b and current liabilities of US$894m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Ingredion's ROCE

With that in mind, Ingredion's ROCE appears pretty good. Ingredion 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.

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.