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What We Think Of Finning International Inc.’s (TSE:FTT) Investment Potential

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Finning International Inc. (TSE:FTT) 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. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. 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.'

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Finning International:

0.11 = CA$430m ÷ (CA$6.5b - CA$2.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Finning International has an ROCE of 11%.

View our latest analysis for Finning International

Does Finning International Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Finning International's ROCE appears to be around the 12% average of the Trade Distributors industry. Separate from Finning International's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

Our data shows that Finning International currently has an ROCE of 11%, compared to its ROCE of 7.6% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how Finning International's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSX:FTT Past Revenue and Net Income, September 17th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Finning International.

Finning International'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Finning International has total assets of CA$6.5b and current liabilities of CA$2.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 40% of its total assets. Finning International has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Finning International's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Finning International shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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.