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Today we'll evaluate Société BIC SA (EPA:BB) 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. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.
What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?
ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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?
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 Société BIC:
0.18 = €353m ÷ (€2.4b - €447m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)
Therefore, Société BIC has an ROCE of 18%.
Is Société BIC's ROCE Good?
One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In our analysis, Société BIC's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.6% average in the Commercial Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Société BIC's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.
When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.
Do Société BIC's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?
Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.
Société BIC has total liabilities of €447m and total assets of €2.4b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.
The Bottom Line On Société BIC's ROCE
Overall, Société BIC has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. But note: Société BIC may not be the best stock to buy. 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
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 email@example.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.