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Why Daqo New Energy Corp.’s (NYSE:DQ) Use Of Investor Capital Doesn’t Look Great

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Daqo New Energy Corp. (NYSE:DQ) 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.

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 Daqo New Energy:

0.045 = US$33m ÷ (US$979m - US$246m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Daqo New Energy has an ROCE of 4.5%.

Check out our latest analysis for Daqo New Energy

Is Daqo New Energy's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Daqo New Energy's ROCE is meaningfully below the Semiconductor industry average of 10%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Putting aside Daqo New Energy's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

We can see that, Daqo New Energy currently has an ROCE of 4.5%, less than the 15% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Daqo New Energy's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:DQ Past Revenue and Net Income, October 9th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Daqo New Energy.

How Daqo New Energy's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Daqo New Energy has total assets of US$979m and current liabilities of US$246m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 25% of its total assets. This is not a high level of current liabilities, which would not boost the ROCE by much.

The Bottom Line On Daqo New Energy's ROCE

That's not a bad thing, however Daqo New Energy has a weak ROCE and may not be an attractive investment. 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.