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IVU Traffic Technologies AG (ETR:IVU) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at IVU Traffic Technologies AG (ETR:IVU) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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.

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 IVU Traffic Technologies:

0.12 = €7.2m ÷ (€83m - €25m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, IVU Traffic Technologies has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for IVU Traffic Technologies

Is IVU Traffic Technologies's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, IVU Traffic Technologies's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.4% average in the Software industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from IVU Traffic Technologies's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that IVU Traffic Technologies currently has an ROCE of 12%, compared to its ROCE of 9.8% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how IVU Traffic Technologies's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

XTRA:IVU Past Revenue and Net Income, November 13th 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 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. How cyclical is IVU Traffic Technologies? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect IVU Traffic Technologies's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

IVU Traffic Technologies has total liabilities of €25m and total assets of €83m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 30% of its total assets. IVU Traffic Technologies has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On IVU Traffic Technologies's ROCE

With a decent ROCE, the company could be interesting, but remember that the level of current liabilities make the ROCE look better. There might be better investments than IVU Traffic Technologies out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.