Shareholders Should Look Hard At Fosun International Limited’s (HKG:656) 0.2% Return On Capital

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Fosun International Limited (HKG:656) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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 measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Fosun International:

0.002 = CN¥810m ÷ (CN¥639b - CN¥234b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Fosun International has an ROCE of 0.2%.

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

View our latest analysis for Fosun International

Does Fosun International Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Fosun International's ROCE is meaningfully below the Industrials industry average of 3.7%. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of how Fosun International stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is quite low (especially compared to a bank account). It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

Fosun International reported an ROCE of 0.2% -- better than 3 years ago, when the company didn't make a profit. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

SEHK:656 Past Revenue and Net Income, May 23rd 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Fosun International.

Do Fosun International's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Fosun International has total liabilities of CN¥234b and total assets of CN¥639b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 37% of its total assets. With a medium level of current liabilities boosting the ROCE a little, Fosun International's low ROCE is unappealing.

Our Take On Fosun International's ROCE

This company may not be the most attractive investment prospect. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

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.