Today we'll look at IMCD N.V. (AMS:IMCD) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.
First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.
Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)
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.
How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?
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 IMCD:
0.12 = €178m ÷ (€2.1b - €641m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
So, IMCD has an ROCE of 12%.
Does IMCD Have A Good ROCE?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. It appears that IMCD's ROCE is fairly close to the Trade Distributors industry average of 11%. Regardless of where IMCD 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 IMCD's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.
When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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.
Do IMCD's Current Liabilities Skew 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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.
IMCD has total liabilities of €641m and total assets of €2.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 31% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, IMCD's ROCE is boosted somewhat.
Our Take On IMCD'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 IMCD 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.
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