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What Can We Make Of Mitie Group plc’s (LON:MTO) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Mitie Group plc (LON:MTO) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 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. 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Mitie Group:

0.29 = UK£87m ÷ (UK£984m - UK£680m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Mitie Group has an ROCE of 29%.

Check out our latest analysis for Mitie Group

Does Mitie Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Mitie Group's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Commercial Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Mitie Group's ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

Our data shows that Mitie Group currently has an ROCE of 29%, compared to its ROCE of 16% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Mitie Group's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

LSE:MTO Past Revenue and Net Income, July 13th 2019

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Mitie Group'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. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Mitie Group has total liabilities of UK£680m and total assets of UK£984m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 69% of its total assets. Mitie Group boasts an attractive ROCE, even after considering the boost from high current liabilities.

The Bottom Line On Mitie Group's ROCE

In my book, this business could be worthy of further research. Mitie Group 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.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.