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Ryerson Holding Corporation (NYSE:RYI) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Ryerson Holding Corporation (NYSE:RYI) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Ryerson Holding:

0.11 = US$183m ÷ (US$2.3b - US$662m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, Ryerson Holding has an ROCE of 11%.

See our latest analysis for Ryerson Holding

Is Ryerson Holding's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Ryerson Holding's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.1% average in the Metals and Mining industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Ryerson Holding compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

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

NYSE:RYI Past Revenue and Net Income, July 15th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. We note Ryerson Holding could be considered a cyclical business. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Ryerson Holding.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Ryerson Holding's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Ryerson Holding has total liabilities of US$662m and total assets of US$2.3b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 29% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Ryerson Holding's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Ryerson Holding could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Ryerson Holding out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.