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Is There More To Elton International Trading Company S.A. (ATH:ELTON) Than Its 9.8% Returns On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Elton International Trading Company S.A. (ATH:ELTON) 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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 measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 Elton International Trading:

0.098 = €6.1m ÷ (€104m - €43m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Elton International Trading has an ROCE of 9.8%.

View our latest analysis for Elton International Trading

Is Elton International Trading's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. It appears that Elton International Trading's ROCE is fairly close to the Trade Distributors industry average of 11%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Elton International Trading'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.

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

ATSE:ELTON Past Revenue and Net Income, October 5th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is Elton International Trading? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Elton International Trading'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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Elton International Trading has total liabilities of €43m and total assets of €104m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 41% of its total assets. Elton International Trading has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost its ROCE somewhat.

Our Take On Elton International Trading's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. You might be able to find a better investment than Elton International Trading. 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).

I will like Elton International Trading 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.