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Are Shenandoah Telecommunications Company’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (NASDAQ:SHEN) 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.

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 metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.'

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 Shenandoah Telecommunications:

0.061 = US$104m ÷ (US$1.8b - US$128m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Shenandoah Telecommunications has an ROCE of 6.1%.

View our latest analysis for Shenandoah Telecommunications

Is Shenandoah Telecommunications's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Shenandoah Telecommunications's ROCE is around the 6.1% average reported by the Wireless Telecom industry. Separate from how Shenandoah Telecommunications stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Shenandoah Telecommunications's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:SHEN Past Revenue and Net Income, September 6th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Shenandoah Telecommunications.

How Shenandoah Telecommunications'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Shenandoah Telecommunications has total liabilities of US$128m and total assets of US$1.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 7.0% of its total assets. Shenandoah Telecommunications reports few current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its unremarkable ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Shenandoah Telecommunications's ROCE

If performance improves, then Shenandoah Telecommunications may be an OK investment, especially at the right valuation. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E 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.