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Is Orion Engineered Carbons S.A.’s (NYSE:OEC) 17% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Orion Engineered Carbons S.A. (NYSE:OEC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is 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. 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 Orion Engineered Carbons:

0.17 = US$164m ÷ (US$1.3b - US$319m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Orion Engineered Carbons has an ROCE of 17%.

View our latest analysis for Orion Engineered Carbons

Does Orion Engineered Carbons Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Orion Engineered Carbons's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 12% average in the Chemicals industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of where Orion Engineered Carbons sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NYSE:OEC Past Revenue and Net Income, May 7th 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.

Do Orion Engineered Carbons's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Orion Engineered Carbons has total liabilities of US$319m and total assets of US$1.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 25% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Orion Engineered Carbons's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Orion Engineered Carbons could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Orion Engineered Carbons out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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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.