U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 18 mins

Why Biokarpet S.A.’s (ATH:BIOKA) Return On Capital Employed Might Be A Concern

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Biokarpet S.A. (ATH:BIOKA) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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 Biokarpet:

0.051 = €4.8m ÷ (€143m - €48m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Biokarpet has an ROCE of 5.1%.

See our latest analysis for Biokarpet

Is Biokarpet's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Biokarpet's ROCE is meaningfully below the Metals and Mining industry average of 9.3%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Aside from the industry comparison, Biokarpet's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

Biokarpet reported an ROCE of 5.1% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. That implies the business has been improving. You can see in the image below how Biokarpet's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ATSE:BIOKA Past Revenue and Net Income, January 15th 2020

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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. Remember that most companies like Biokarpet are cyclical businesses. How cyclical is Biokarpet? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Biokarpet's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Biokarpet has total liabilities of €48m and total assets of €143m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 34% of its total assets. Biokarpet's ROCE is improved somewhat by its moderate amount of current liabilities.

Our Take On Biokarpet's ROCE

Despite this, its ROCE is still mediocre, and you may find more appealing investments elsewhere. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.