U.S. markets open in 7 hours 21 minutes

Why We’re Not Keen On Berry Global Group, Inc.’s (NYSE:BERY) 6.7% Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Berry Global Group, Inc. (NYSE:BERY) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. 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'.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 Berry Global Group:

0.067 = US$990m ÷ (US$17b - US$2.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2020.)

So, Berry Global Group has an ROCE of 6.7%.

View our latest analysis for Berry Global Group

Is Berry Global Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Berry Global Group's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 9.5% average reported by the Packaging industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Berry Global Group's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Berry Global Group's current ROCE of 6.7% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 9.0% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently. You can see in the image below how Berry Global Group's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:BERY Past Revenue and Net Income May 11th 2020

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. 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 Berry Global Group.

Do Berry Global Group's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Berry Global Group has total assets of US$17b and current liabilities of US$2.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Berry Global Group's ROCE

If Berry Global Group continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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).

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.

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. Thank you for reading.