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Why We’re Not Impressed By The Andersons, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ANDE) 2.2% ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Andersons, Inc. (NASDAQ:ANDE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Andersons:

0.022 = US$48m ÷ (US$3.7b - US$1.4b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Andersons has an ROCE of 2.2%.

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Does Andersons Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. We can see Andersons's ROCE is meaningfully below the Consumer Retailing industry average of 10%. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Putting aside Andersons'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.

NasdaqGS:ANDE Past Revenue and Net Income, May 15th 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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Andersons.

Andersons'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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Andersons has total assets of US$3.7b and current liabilities of US$1.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 40% of its total assets. With a medium level of current liabilities boosting the ROCE a little, Andersons's low ROCE is unappealing.

Our Take On Andersons's ROCE

So researching other companies may be a better use of your time. 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).

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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.