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Is There More To A.G. BARR p.l.c. (LON:BAG) Than Its 18% Returns On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at A.G. BARR p.l.c. (LON:BAG) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

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 A.G. BARR:

0.18 = UK£41m ÷ (UK£299m - UK£65m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

So, A.G. BARR has an ROCE of 18%.

Check out our latest analysis for A.G. BARR

Is A.G. BARR's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that A.G. BARR's ROCE is fairly close to the Beverage industry average of 15%. Regardless of where A.G. BARR sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can see in the image below how A.G. BARR's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

LSE:BAG Past Revenue and Net Income, December 22nd 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for A.G. BARR.

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

A.G. BARR has total assets of UK£299m and current liabilities of UK£65m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On A.G. BARR's ROCE

With that in mind, A.G. BARR's ROCE appears pretty good. A.G. BARR looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

I will like A.G. BARR better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.