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Why We Like Smart-Core Holdings Limited’s (HKG:2166) 17% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Smart-Core Holdings Limited (HKG:2166) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. 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. 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'.

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 Smart-Core Holdings:

0.17 = HK$109m ÷ (HK$1.6b - HK$918m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Smart-Core Holdings has an ROCE of 17%.

See our latest analysis for Smart-Core Holdings

Is Smart-Core Holdings's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Smart-Core Holdings's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.9% average in the Electronic industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Smart-Core Holdings sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

We can see that, Smart-Core Holdings currently has an ROCE of 17%, less than the 42% it reported 3 years ago. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. The image below shows how Smart-Core Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

SEHK:2166 Past Revenue and Net Income, November 6th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. How cyclical is Smart-Core Holdings? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Smart-Core Holdings's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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. 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.

Smart-Core Holdings has total liabilities of HK$918m and total assets of HK$1.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 59% of its total assets. This is admittedly a high level of current liabilities, improving ROCE substantially.

What We Can Learn From Smart-Core Holdings's ROCE

This ROCE is pretty good, but remember that it would look less impressive with fewer current liabilities. There might be better investments than Smart-Core Holdings out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

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.