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Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom (MCX:GAZP) Might Not Be A Great Investment

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom (MCX:GAZP) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

First, 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 metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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.'

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 Gazprom:

0.11 = RUруб2.1t ÷ (RUруб21t - RUруб2.4t) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Gazprom has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Gazprom

Does Gazprom Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Gazprom's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 14% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how Gazprom compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~8.4% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

Our data shows that Gazprom currently has an ROCE of 11%, compared to its ROCE of 7.7% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can see in the image below how Gazprom's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

MISX:GAZP Past Revenue and Net Income, August 22nd 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. We note Gazprom could be considered a cyclical business. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Gazprom's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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.

Gazprom has total liabilities of RUруб2.4t and total assets of RUруб21t. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Gazprom's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Gazprom has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. You might be able to find a better investment than Gazprom. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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

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.