Today we are going to look at Beiersdorf Aktiengesellschaft (ETR:BEI) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.
First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.
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 Beiersdorf:
0.16 = €1.1b ÷ (€9.4b - €2.5b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)
So, Beiersdorf has an ROCE of 16%.
Is Beiersdorf's ROCE Good?
ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Beiersdorf's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Personal Products industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Beiersdorf compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.
You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Beiersdorf's past growth compares to other companies.
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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Beiersdorf.
Beiersdorf'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. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.
Beiersdorf has current liabilities of €2.5b and total assets of €9.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 26% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.
The Bottom Line On Beiersdorf's ROCE
This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Beiersdorf could be worth a closer look. Beiersdorf looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.
I will like Beiersdorf better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
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