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Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) Might Not Be A Great Investment

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE 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 is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Perseus Mining:

0.039 = AU$38m ÷ (AU$1.1b - AU$96m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Perseus Mining has an ROCE of 3.9%.

See our latest analysis for Perseus Mining

Is Perseus Mining's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Perseus Mining's ROCE is meaningfully below the Metals and Mining industry average of 9.7%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Putting aside Perseus Mining's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Perseus Mining reported an ROCE of 3.9% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That suggests the business has returned to profitability. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Perseus Mining's past growth compares to other companies.

ASX:PRU Past Revenue and Net Income April 27th 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. Given the industry it operates in, Perseus Mining could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Perseus Mining's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Perseus Mining has total assets of AU$1.1b and current liabilities of AU$96m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.1% of its total assets. Perseus Mining has very few current liabilities, which have a minimal effect on its already low ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Perseus Mining's ROCE

Still, investors could probably find more attractive prospects with better performance 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.