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Is Ramco Industries Limited (NSE:RAMCOIND) Struggling With Its 3.0% Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Ramco Industries Limited (NSE:RAMCOIND) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. 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'.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Ramco Industries:

0.03 = ₹928m ÷ (₹35b - ₹3.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Ramco Industries has an ROCE of 3.0%.

Check out our latest analysis for Ramco Industries

Is Ramco Industries's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Ramco Industries's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 10.0% average reported by the Basic Materials industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Independently of how Ramco Industries compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~7.6% available in government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

The image below shows how Ramco Industries's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NSEI:RAMCOIND Past Revenue and Net Income, August 26th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Ramco Industries.

Do Ramco Industries's Current Liabilities Skew 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. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Ramco Industries has total liabilities of ₹3.7b and total assets of ₹35b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 11% of its total assets. This is not a high level of current liabilities, which would not boost the ROCE by much.

What We Can Learn From Ramco Industries's ROCE

Ramco Industries has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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).

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.