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Why We Like New Hope Corporation Limited’s (ASX:NHC) 15% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX:NHC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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.

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

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. 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.

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 New Hope:

0.15 = AU$397m ÷ (AU$2.8b - AU$214m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to July 2019.)

Therefore, New Hope has an ROCE of 15%.

View our latest analysis for New Hope

Is New Hope's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that New Hope's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how New Hope compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Our data shows that New Hope currently has an ROCE of 15%, compared to its ROCE of 0.3% 3 years ago. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how New Hope's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

ASX:NHC Past Revenue and Net Income, November 11th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. Given the industry it operates in, New Hope could be considered cyclical. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

New Hope's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

New Hope has total liabilities of AU$214m and total assets of AU$2.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 7.6% of its total assets. In addition to low current liabilities (making a negligible impact on ROCE), New Hope earns a sound return on capital employed.

The Bottom Line On New Hope's ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, New Hope seems worth researching further. New Hope looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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

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.