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Is Public Joint Stock Company Rostelecom (MCX:RTKM) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Public Joint Stock Company Rostelecom (MCX:RTKM) 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.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Rostelecom:

0.063 = ₽35b ÷ (₽671b - ₽109b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Rostelecom has an ROCE of 6.3%.

See our latest analysis for Rostelecom

Does Rostelecom Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Rostelecom's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 10% average reported by the Telecom industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Regardless of how Rostelecom stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

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

MISX:RTKM Past Revenue and Net Income, January 23rd 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Rostelecom.

Rostelecom'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. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Rostelecom has total liabilities of ₽109b and total assets of ₽671b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 16% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Rostelecom's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Rostelecom has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. 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.