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Is Silgan Holdings Inc.’s (NASDAQ:SLGN) Return On Capital Employed Any Good?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Silgan Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:SLGN) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Silgan Holdings:

0.10 = US$418m ÷ (US$4.9b - US$721m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Silgan Holdings has an ROCE of 10.0%.

See our latest analysis for Silgan Holdings

Does Silgan Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Silgan Holdings's ROCE appears to be around the 10% average of the Packaging industry. Separate from how Silgan Holdings stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

NasdaqGS:SLGN Past Revenue and Net Income, May 3rd 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Silgan Holdings's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Silgan Holdings has total liabilities of US$721m and total assets of US$4.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Silgan Holdings's ROCE

If Silgan Holdings continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Silgan Holdings. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.