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Are Tengasco, Inc.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Grace Strickland

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Today we’ll evaluate Tengasco, Inc. (NYSEMKT:TGC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 Tengasco:

0.05 = -US$765.0k ÷ (US$10m – US$830k) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Tengasco has an ROCE of 5.0%.

See our latest analysis for Tengasco

Is Tengasco’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. We can see Tengasco’s ROCE is around the 6.2% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. Independently of how Tengasco compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.7% available in government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Tengasco has an ROCE of 5.0%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That suggests the business has returned to profitability.

AMEX:TGC Last Perf February 15th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. We note Tengasco could be considered a cyclical business. You can check if Tengasco has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Tengasco’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 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.

Tengasco has total assets of US$10m and current liabilities of US$830k. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 8.2% of its total assets. Tengasco has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Tengasco’s ROCE

Nonetheless, there may be better places to invest your capital. But note: Tengasco 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).

I will like Tengasco better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.