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Why Hope Education Group Co., Ltd.’s (HKG:1765) Return On Capital Employed Looks Uninspiring

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Hope Education Group Co., Ltd. (HKG:1765) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. 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. 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?

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 Hope Education Group:

0.028 = CN¥179m ÷ (CN¥8.3b - CN¥1.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Hope Education Group has an ROCE of 2.8%.

View our latest analysis for Hope Education Group

Does Hope Education Group Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Hope Education Group's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 11% average reported by the Consumer Services industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Regardless of how Hope Education Group stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Hope Education Group's current ROCE of 2.8% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 9.0% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds.

SEHK:1765 Past Revenue and Net Income, May 10th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Hope Education Group.

Hope Education Group'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. 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Hope Education Group has total assets of CN¥8.3b and current liabilities of CN¥1.9b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which will have a limited impact on the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Hope Education Group's ROCE

Hope Education Group has a poor ROCE, and there may be better investment prospects out there. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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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.