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Why You Should Care About Dovre Group Plc’s (HEL:DOV1V) Low Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Dovre Group Plc (HEL:DOV1V) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?

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 Dovre Group:

0.036 = €976k ÷ (€48m - €21m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Dovre Group has an ROCE of 3.6%.

View our latest analysis for Dovre Group

Is Dovre Group's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Dovre Group's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 7.5% average in the Professional Services industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, Dovre Group'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.

Our data shows that Dovre Group currently has an ROCE of 3.6%, compared to its ROCE of 0.8% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Dovre Group's past growth compares to other companies.

HLSE:DOV1V Past Revenue and Net Income, November 9th 2019

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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. You can check if Dovre Group has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Dovre Group's Current Liabilities Impact 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. 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.

Dovre Group has total assets of €48m and current liabilities of €21m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 43% of its total assets. Dovre Group's middling level of current liabilities have the effect of boosting its ROCE a bit.

The Bottom Line On Dovre Group's ROCE

Unfortunately, its ROCE is still uninspiring, and there are potentially more attractive prospects out there. 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.

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

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.