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What Can We Learn From Coral Products plc’s (LON:CRU) Investment Returns?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Coral Products plc (LON:CRU) 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.

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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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'.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Coral Products:

0.053 = UK£910k ÷ (UK£26m - UK£9.1m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

So, Coral Products has an ROCE of 5.3%.

Check out our latest analysis for Coral Products

Is Coral Products's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Coral Products's ROCE appears to be around the 5.3% average of the Packaging industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Coral Products's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

The image below shows how Coral Products's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

AIM:CRU Past Revenue and Net Income, July 18th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. If Coral Products is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Do Coral Products's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Coral Products has total liabilities of UK£9.1m and total assets of UK£26m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 35% of its total assets. Coral Products's ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Coral Products's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

I will like Coral Products better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.