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Why You Should Like Cimarex Energy Co.’s (NYSE:XEC) ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we’ll look at Cimarex Energy Co. (NYSE:XEC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we’ll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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?

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 Cimarex Energy:

0.20 = US$1.0b ÷ (US$6.1b – US$709m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Cimarex Energy has an ROCE of 20%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cimarex Energy

Does Cimarex Energy Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Cimarex Energy’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 8.9% average in the Oil and Gas industry. I think that’s good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Separate from Cimarex Energy’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 Cimarex Energy currently has an ROCE of 20%, compared to its ROCE of 0.5% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

NYSE:XEC Past Revenue and Net Income, March 1st 2019

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 misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. We note Cimarex Energy could be considered a cyclical business. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Cimarex Energy’s Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Cimarex Energy has total liabilities of US$709m and total assets of US$6.1b. 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.

The Bottom Line On Cimarex Energy’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Cimarex Energy could be worth a closer look. You might be able to find a better buy than Cimarex Energy. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

I will like Cimarex Energy better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.