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What Can We Learn From Perseus SA’s (ATH:PERS) Investment Returns?

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Simply Wall St
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Today we’ll evaluate Perseus SA (ATH:PERS) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Perseus:

0.096 = €4.0m ÷ (€63m – €18m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Perseus has an ROCE of 9.6%.

See our latest analysis for Perseus

Does Perseus Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Perseus’s ROCE is fairly close to the Food industry average of 9.6%. Separate from how Perseus 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.

Perseus’s current ROCE of 9.6% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 22%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

ATSE:PERS Past Revenue and Net Income, February 27th 2019
ATSE:PERS Past Revenue and Net Income, February 27th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. You can check if Perseus has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Perseus’s Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Perseus has total assets of €63m and current liabilities of €18m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 29% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Perseus’s ROCE

That said, Perseus’s ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Perseus. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Perseus 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.