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Shareholders Should Look Hard At AIREA plc’s (LON:AIEA) 12%Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate AIREA plc (LON:AIEA) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. 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'.

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 AIREA:

0.12 = UK£2.3m ÷ (UK£24m - UK£4.1m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, AIREA has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for AIREA

Does AIREA Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see AIREA's ROCE is meaningfully below the Consumer Durables industry average of 16%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how AIREA compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

AIREA has an ROCE of 12%, but it didn't have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how AIREA's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

AIM:AIEA Past Revenue and Net Income, January 1st 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. How cyclical is AIREA? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

AIREA's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

AIREA has total liabilities of UK£4.1m and total assets of UK£24m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From AIREA's ROCE

Overall, AIREA has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. AIREA shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.