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Is Performance Food Group Company’s (NYSE:PFGC) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Performance Food Group Company (NYSE:PFGC) 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.

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.

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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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'.

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 Performance Food Group:

0.071 = US$304m ÷ (US$6.1b - US$1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, Performance Food Group has an ROCE of 7.1%.

Check out our latest analysis for Performance Food Group

Is Performance Food Group's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Performance Food Group's ROCE is fairly close to the Consumer Retailing industry average of 8.0%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Performance Food Group's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

You can see in the image below how Performance Food Group's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:PFGC Past Revenue and Net Income, February 7th 2020

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Performance Food Group'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. 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.

Performance Food Group has current liabilities of US$1.8b and total assets of US$6.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 30% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Performance Food Group's ROCE

If Performance Food Group continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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.

I will like Performance Food Group 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.