Today we'll look at Aena S.M.E., S.A. (BME:AENA) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.
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.
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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Aena S.M.E:
0.15 = €1.9b ÷ (€15b - €1.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)
So, Aena S.M.E has an ROCE of 15%.
Does Aena S.M.E Have A Good ROCE?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Aena S.M.E's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.5% average in the Infrastructure industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Aena S.M.E'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 Aena S.M.E currently has an ROCE of 15%, compared to its ROCE of 9.9% 3 years ago. This makes us think the business might be improving. You can see in the image below how Aena S.M.E's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.
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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Aena S.M.E.
Do Aena S.M.E'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.
Aena S.M.E has total assets of €15b and current liabilities of €1.8b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.
Our Take On Aena S.M.E's ROCE
With that in mind, Aena S.M.E's ROCE appears pretty good. Aena S.M.E 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 email@example.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.