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Why Sunpower Group Ltd.’s (SGX:5GD) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Sunpower Group Ltd. (SGX:5GD) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Sunpower Group:

0.12 = CN¥445m ÷ (CN¥6.9b - CN¥3.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Sunpower Group has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Sunpower Group

Is Sunpower Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Sunpower Group's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 8.1% average in the Machinery industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Sunpower Group compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Sunpower Group's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

SGX:5GD Past Revenue and Net Income, November 12th 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 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 Sunpower Group.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Sunpower Group's ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Sunpower Group has total assets of CN¥6.9b and current liabilities of CN¥3.0b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 44% of its total assets. Sunpower Group has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Sunpower Group's ROCE

Sunpower Group's ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. Sunpower Group shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

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