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Is Jagged Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE:JAG) Investing Effectively In Its Business?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Jagged Peak Energy Inc. (NYSE:JAG) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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 Jagged Peak Energy:

0.099 = US$168m ÷ (US$1.9b - US$227m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Jagged Peak Energy has an ROCE of 9.9%.

View our latest analysis for Jagged Peak Energy

Does Jagged Peak Energy Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Jagged Peak Energy's ROCE is around the 8.3% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. Separate from how Jagged Peak Energy stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Jagged Peak Energy delivered an ROCE of 9.9%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Jagged Peak Energy's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:JAG Past Revenue and Net Income, September 4th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. We note Jagged Peak Energy could be considered a cyclical business. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Jagged Peak Energy.

Jagged Peak Energy's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Jagged Peak Energy has total assets of US$1.9b and current liabilities of US$227m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Jagged Peak Energy's ROCE

That said, Jagged Peak Energy's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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.