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Are SEB SA’s (EPA:SK) Returns Worth Your While?

Jacob Boyd

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Today we’ll look at SEB SA (EPA:SK) 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 SEB:

0.14 = €635m ÷ (€6.4b – €1.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

Therefore, SEB has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for SEB

Does SEB Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see SEB’s ROCE is around the 14% average reported by the Consumer Durables industry. Independently of how SEB compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

ENXTPA:SK Last Perf February 5th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during 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 SEB.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect SEB’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 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.

SEB has total liabilities of €1.7b and total assets of €6.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 27% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On SEB’s ROCE

With that in mind, SEB’s ROCE appears pretty good. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than SEB. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like SEB better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.