Has TFF Group (EPA:TFF) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at TFF Group (EPA:TFF) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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, 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 is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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.'

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 TFF Group:

0.13 = €49m ÷ (€538m - €171m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2018.)

So, TFF Group has an ROCE of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for TFF Group

Is TFF Group's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that TFF Group's ROCE is fairly close to the Packaging industry average of 13%. Regardless of where TFF Group sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

ENXTPA:TFF Past Revenue and Net Income, April 16th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for TFF Group.

How TFF Group's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that 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.

TFF Group has total assets of €538m and current liabilities of €171m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 32% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, TFF Group's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

The Bottom Line On TFF Group's ROCE

TFF Group's ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. There might be better investments than TFF Group out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.