Are Crown Holdings, Inc.’s (NYSE:CCK) Returns Worth Your While?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Crown Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CCK) 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. 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 '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. 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 Crown Holdings:

0.095 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$16b - US$3.6b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Crown Holdings has an ROCE of 9.5%.

View our latest analysis for Crown Holdings

Does Crown Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. It appears that Crown Holdings's ROCE is fairly close to the Packaging industry average of 10%. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Crown Holdings's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

Crown Holdings's current ROCE of 9.5% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 15% ROCE. Therefore we wonder if the company is facing new headwinds. The image below shows how Crown Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NYSE:CCK Past Revenue and Net Income, October 15th 2019

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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Crown Holdings'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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Crown Holdings has total liabilities of US$3.6b and total assets of US$16b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 23% of its total assets. This very reasonable level of current liabilities would not boost the ROCE by much.

Our Take On Crown Holdings's ROCE

If Crown Holdings continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Crown Holdings. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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.