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Should You Like Société BIC SA’s (EPA:BB) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Société BIC SA (EPA:BB) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Société BIC:

0.17 = €318m ÷ (€2.5b - €697m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Société BIC has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Société BIC

Is Société BIC's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Société BIC's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 7.6% average in the Commercial Services industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Independently of how Société BIC compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Société BIC's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ENXTPA:BB Past Revenue and Net Income, September 18th 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 only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Société BIC.

Société BIC'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.

Société BIC has total assets of €2.5b and current liabilities of €697m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 27% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Société BIC's ROCE

With that in mind, Société BIC's ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Société BIC out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.