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Do You Know About Ag Growth International Inc.’s (TSE:AFN) ROCE?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Ag Growth International Inc. (TSE:AFN) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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.

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 Ag Growth International:

0.083 = CA$102m ÷ (CA$1.5b - CA$232m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Ag Growth International has an ROCE of 8.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Ag Growth International

Is Ag Growth International's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Ag Growth International's ROCE is around the 9.3% average reported by the Machinery industry. Separate from how Ag Growth International stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

We can see that, Ag Growth International currently has an ROCE of 8.3% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 5.3%. This makes us think the business might be improving. The image below shows how Ag Growth International's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSX:AFN Past Revenue and Net Income, October 17th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Ag Growth International.

Ag Growth International's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Ag Growth International has total liabilities of CA$232m and total assets of CA$1.5b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 16% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Ag Growth International's ROCE

If Ag Growth International continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.