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Pantoro Limited’s (ASX:PNR) Investment Returns Are Lagging Its Industry

Simply Wall St
·4 mins read

Today we'll look at Pantoro Limited (ASX:PNR) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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 Pantoro:

0.0074 = AU$780k ÷ (AU$122m - AU$16m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Pantoro has an ROCE of 0.7%.

See our latest analysis for Pantoro

Does Pantoro Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Pantoro's ROCE is meaningfully below the Metals and Mining industry average of 8.9%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Regardless of how Pantoro stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Pantoro reported an ROCE of 0.7% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That implies the business has been improving. You can see in the image below how Pantoro's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ASX:PNR Past Revenue and Net Income, February 21st 2020
ASX:PNR Past Revenue and Net Income, February 21st 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. We note Pantoro could be considered a cyclical business. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Pantoro.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Pantoro's ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Pantoro has total assets of AU$122m and current liabilities of AU$16m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which will have a limited impact on the ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Pantoro's ROCE

Pantoro has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.