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Why You Should Care About King Fook Holdings Limited’s (HKG:280) Low Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate King Fook Holdings Limited (HKG:280) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.

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 King Fook Holdings:

0.00074 = HK$471k ÷ (HK$688m - HK$54m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, King Fook Holdings has an ROCE of 0.07%.

See our latest analysis for King Fook Holdings

Is King Fook Holdings's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, King Fook Holdings's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 12% average reported by the Specialty Retail industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Independently of how King Fook Holdings compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is low; especially compared to the ~2.0% available in government bonds. There are potentially more appealing investments elsewhere.

King Fook Holdings delivered an ROCE of 0.07%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving. The image below shows how King Fook Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

SEHK:280 Past Revenue and Net Income, October 19th 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 King Fook Holdings has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How King Fook Holdings'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

King Fook Holdings has total assets of HK$688m and current liabilities of HK$54m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 7.9% of its total assets. With barely any current liabilities, there is minimal impact on King Fook Holdings's admittedly low ROCE.

Our Take On King Fook Holdings's ROCE

Nonetheless, there may be better places to invest your capital. But note: make sure you look for a great company, not just the first idea you come across. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio 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.