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Should Sensys Gatso Group AB (publ)’s (STO:SENS) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Sensys Gatso Group AB (publ) (STO:SENS) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First of all, we'll work out how to 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 measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.'

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Sensys Gatso Group:

0.0059 = kr3.3m ÷ (kr682m - kr129m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Sensys Gatso Group has an ROCE of 0.6%.

Check out our latest analysis for Sensys Gatso Group

Does Sensys Gatso Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Sensys Gatso Group's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 13% average reported by the Electronic industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Putting aside Sensys Gatso Group's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Sensys Gatso Group's current ROCE of 0.6% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 9.9%, 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

OM:SENS Past Revenue and Net Income, April 29th 2019

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 Sensys Gatso Group.

How Sensys Gatso Group's Current Liabilities Impact Its 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Sensys Gatso Group has total assets of kr682m and current liabilities of kr129m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 19% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Sensys Gatso Group's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Sensys Gatso Group has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.