Why You Should Like Ferrexpo Plc’s (LON:FXPO) ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Ferrexpo Plc (LON:FXPO) 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. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding 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. 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.'

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 Ferrexpo:

0.46 = US$433m ÷ (US$1.4b - US$413m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2018.)

So, Ferrexpo has an ROCE of 46%.

View our latest analysis for Ferrexpo

Is Ferrexpo's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Ferrexpo's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 13% average in the Metals and Mining industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Ferrexpo's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

As we can see, Ferrexpo currently has an ROCE of 46% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 21%. This makes us wonder if the company is improving.

LSE:FXPO Past Revenue and Net Income, April 16th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Remember that most companies like Ferrexpo are cyclical businesses. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Ferrexpo's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Ferrexpo has total liabilities of US$413m and total assets of US$1.4b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 31% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Ferrexpo's ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Ferrexpo's ROCE

Even so, it has a great ROCE, and could be an attractive prospect for further research. There might be better investments than Ferrexpo 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.