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Why Abéo SA’s (EPA:ABEO) Use Of Investor Capital Doesn’t Look Great

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Abéo SA (EPA:ABEO) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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'.

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 Abéo:

0.044 = €9.7m ÷ (€298m - €77m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Abéo has an ROCE of 4.4%.

View our latest analysis for Abéo

Is Abéo's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Abéo's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 11% average in the Leisure industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Abéo'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.

Abéo's current ROCE of 4.4% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 14%, 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the business is facing new challenges. You can see in the image below how Abéo's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ENXTPA:ABEO Past Revenue and Net Income May 9th 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. 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 Abéo.

Do Abéo's Current Liabilities Skew 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Abéo has current liabilities of €77m and total assets of €298m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 26% 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 Abéo's ROCE

If Abéo continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Abéo. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.