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Why We’re Not Impressed By Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:COKE) 1.9% ROCE

Ray Foley

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Today we’ll look at Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc. (NASDAQ:COKE) 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.

Firstly, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.’

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 Coca-Cola Consolidated:

0.019 = US$103m ÷ (US$3.1b – US$559m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Coca-Cola Consolidated has an ROCE of 1.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for Coca-Cola Consolidated

Is Coca-Cola Consolidated’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In this analysis, Coca-Cola Consolidated’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 8.6% average reported by the Beverage industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Putting aside Coca-Cola Consolidated’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor – considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. Readers may wish to look for more rewarding investments.

Coca-Cola Consolidated’s current ROCE of 1.9% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 7.8% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqGS:COKE Past Revenue and Net Income, February 21st 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is Coca-Cola Consolidated? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Coca-Cola Consolidated’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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Coca-Cola Consolidated has total liabilities of US$559m and total assets of US$3.1b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 18% of its total assets. With a very reasonable level of current liabilities, so the impact on ROCE is fairly minimal.

The Bottom Line On Coca-Cola Consolidated’s ROCE

While that is good to see, Coca-Cola Consolidated has a low ROCE and does not look attractive in this analysis. 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.

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.