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Why You Should Like Diploma PLC’s (LON:DPLM) ROCE

Ricardo Crouch

Today we’ll look at Diploma PLC (LON:DPLM) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Then we’ll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Diploma:

0.23 = UK£73m ÷ (UK£404m – UK£91m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

Therefore, Diploma has an ROCE of 23%.

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Does Diploma Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Diploma’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 15% average in the Trade Distributors industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Diploma’s ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.


LSE:DPLM Last Perf January 22nd 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Diploma.

How Diploma’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. 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.

Diploma has total assets of UK£404m and current liabilities of UK£91m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 22% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Diploma’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Diploma could be worthy of further investigation. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Diploma. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.