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Are Soup Restaurant Group Limited’s (SGX:5KI) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Soup Restaurant Group Limited (SGX:5KI) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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 Soup Restaurant Group:

0.079 = S$1.4m ÷ (S$28m - S$11m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Soup Restaurant Group has an ROCE of 7.9%.

View our latest analysis for Soup Restaurant Group

Is Soup Restaurant Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Soup Restaurant Group's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 6.3% average in the Hospitality industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Aside from the industry comparison, Soup Restaurant Group's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

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

SGX:5KI Past Revenue and Net Income, January 8th 2020

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. If Soup Restaurant Group is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Soup Restaurant Group's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

Soup Restaurant Group has total assets of S$28m and current liabilities of S$11m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 37% of its total assets. Soup Restaurant Group's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

Our Take On Soup Restaurant Group's ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. You might be able to find a better investment than Soup Restaurant Group. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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

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.