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Mondi plc (LON:MNDI) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Today weâ€™ll evaluate Mondi plc (LON:MNDI) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, weâ€™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.

Firstly, weâ€™ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then weâ€™ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, weâ€™ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the â€˜returnâ€™ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from 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 â€˜No two businesses are exactly alike.â€™

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) Ã· (Total Assets â€“ Current Liabilities)

Or for Mondi:

0.21 = â‚¬1.3b Ã· (â‚¬8.0b â€“ â‚¬1.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Mondi has an ROCE of 21%.

Does Mondi Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Mondiâ€™s ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.6% average in the Forestry industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Mondiâ€™s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Mondiâ€™s ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Mondi has total assets of â‚¬8.0b and current liabilities of â‚¬1.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities wonâ€™t have much impact on the already great ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Mondiâ€™s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Mondi may be worth a closer look. You might be able to find a better buy than Mondi. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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.