Today we’ll look at Rubis (EPA:RUI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 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. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Rubis:
0.11 = €368m ÷ (€4.7b – €987m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)
Therefore, Rubis has an ROCE of 11%.
Is Rubis’s ROCE Good?
ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Rubis’s ROCE appears to be around the 9.3% average of the Gas Utilities industry. Regardless of where Rubis sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.
As we can see, Rubis currently has an ROCE of 11% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 6.0%. This makes us think the business might be improving.
It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Rubis.
Do Rubis’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.
Rubis has total liabilities of €987m and total assets of €4.7b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 21% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.
What We Can Learn From Rubis’s ROCE
This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Rubis could be worth a closer look. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Rubis. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.
If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.