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Why We’re Not Keen On Drax Group plc’s (LON:DRX) 4.2% Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Drax Group plc (LON:DRX) 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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'.

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 Drax Group:

0.042 = UK£118m ÷ (UK£4.5b - UK£1.7b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Drax Group has an ROCE of 4.2%.

See our latest analysis for Drax Group

Is Drax Group's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In this analysis, Drax Group's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 5.4% average reported by the Renewable Energy industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of how Drax Group stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

We can see that , Drax Group currently has an ROCE of 4.2% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 2.7%. This makes us think the business might be improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Drax Group's past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:DRX Past Revenue and Net Income, July 2nd 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Drax Group's Current Liabilities Impact 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Drax Group has total liabilities of UK£1.7b and total assets of UK£4.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 38% of its total assets. With a medium level of current liabilities boosting the ROCE a little, Drax Group's low ROCE is unappealing.

The Bottom Line On Drax Group's ROCE

There are likely better investments out there. 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).

I will like Drax Group better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.