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Is World Fuel Services Corporation’s (NYSE:INT) 11% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at World Fuel Services Corporation (NYSE:INT) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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'.

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 World Fuel Services:

0.11 = US$308m ÷ (US$5.8b - US$2.9b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, World Fuel Services has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for World Fuel Services

Does World Fuel Services Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, World Fuel Services's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 7.5% average in the Oil and Gas industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where World Fuel Services sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Our data shows that World Fuel Services currently has an ROCE of 11%, compared to its ROCE of 8.6% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can see in the image below how World Fuel Services's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:INT Past Revenue and Net Income, August 3rd 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. Remember that most companies like World Fuel Services are cyclical businesses. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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

World Fuel Services has total liabilities of US$2.9b and total assets of US$5.8b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 50% of its total assets. World Fuel Services's current liabilities are fairly high, which increases its ROCE significantly.

What We Can Learn From World Fuel Services's ROCE

This ROCE is pretty good, but remember that it would look less impressive with fewer current liabilities. World Fuel Services 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.