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Is SINA Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SINA) 10% Return On Capital Employed Good News?

Heidi Stubbs

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Today we are going to look at SINA Corporation (NASDAQ:SINA) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the ‘return’ (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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?

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 SINA:

0.10 = US$389m ÷ (US$5.8b – US$1.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, SINA has an ROCE of 10%.

Check out our latest analysis for SINA

Is SINA’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. It appears that SINA’s ROCE is fairly close to the Interactive Media and Services industry average of 10%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, SINA’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

SINA delivered an ROCE of 10%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NASDAQGS:SINA Last Perf February 5th 19

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

SINA’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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

SINA has total assets of US$5.8b and current liabilities of US$1.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On SINA’s ROCE

If SINA continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. But note: SINA may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.