Why Cranswick plc’s (LON:CWK) Return On Capital Employed Is Impressive

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Cranswick plc (LON:CWK) 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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 Cranswick:

0.13 = UK£92m ÷ (UK£894m - UK£194m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Cranswick has an ROCE of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for Cranswick

Does Cranswick Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Cranswick's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 9.4% average in the Food industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Independently of how Cranswick compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

The image below shows how Cranswick's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

LSE:CWK Past Revenue and Net Income April 1st 2020

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. 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.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Cranswick's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Cranswick has total assets of UK£894m and current liabilities of UK£194m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Cranswick's ROCE

With that in mind, Cranswick's ROCE appears pretty good. Cranswick 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.