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Do You Know About Magna International Inc.’s (TSE:MG) ROCE?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Magna International Inc. (TSE:MG) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Magna International:

0.15 = US$2.6b ÷ (US$28b - US$9.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Magna International has an ROCE of 15%.

View our latest analysis for Magna International

Does Magna International Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Magna International's ROCE is fairly close to the Auto Components industry average of 15%. Regardless of where Magna International 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 Magna International's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSX:MG Past Revenue and Net Income, August 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 misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the 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 Magna International.

Magna 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 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Magna International has total assets of US$28b and current liabilities of US$9.6b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 35% of its total assets. Magna International has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Magna International's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Magna International shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.