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What Can We Learn From Ørsted A/S’s (CPH:ORSTED) Investment Returns?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Ørsted A/S (CPH:ORSTED) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First of all, we'll work out how to 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.

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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Ørsted:

0.068 = ø10b ÷ (ø186b - ø37b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Ørsted has an ROCE of 6.8%.

See our latest analysis for Ørsted

Does Ørsted Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Ørsted's ROCE is around the 7.1% average reported by the Electric Utilities industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Ørsted's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Our data shows that Ørsted currently has an ROCE of 6.8%, compared to its ROCE of 4.7% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Ørsted's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

CPSE:ORSTED Past Revenue and Net Income, September 8th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Ørsted.

Ørsted's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Ørsted has total assets of ø186b and current liabilities of ø37b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Ørsted's ROCE

If Ørsted continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Ørsted. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.