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

Neil Montgomery

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Today we’ll look at Ingredion Incorporated (NYSE:INGR) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Ingredion:

0.16 = US$767m ÷ (US$5.7b – US$946m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Ingredion has an ROCE of 16%.

Check out our latest analysis for Ingredion

Does Ingredion Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Ingredion’s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.2% average in the Food industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. 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.

NYSE:INGR Past Revenue and Net Income, February 22nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Ingredion’s Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Ingredion has total liabilities of US$946m and total assets of US$5.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 17% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Ingredion’s ROCE

With that in mind, Ingredion’s ROCE appears pretty good. But note: Ingredion may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Ingredion 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.