Has Xinyi Energy Holdings Limited (HKG:3868) Been Employing Capital Shrewdly?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Xinyi Energy Holdings Limited (HKG:3868) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Xinyi Energy Holdings:

0.073 = HK$921m ÷ (HK$16b - HK$3.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Xinyi Energy Holdings has an ROCE of 7.3%.

View our latest analysis for Xinyi Energy Holdings

Is Xinyi Energy Holdings's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Xinyi Energy Holdings's ROCE is around the 6.8% average reported by the Renewable Energy industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Xinyi Energy Holdings's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

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

SEHK:3868 Past Revenue and Net Income, September 20th 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 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Xinyi Energy Holdings's Current Liabilities Impact 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Xinyi Energy Holdings has total liabilities of HK$3.3b and total assets of HK$16b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Xinyi Energy Holdings's ROCE

With that in mind, we're not overly impressed with Xinyi Energy Holdings's ROCE, so it may not be the most appealing prospect. You might be able to find a better investment than Xinyi Energy Holdings. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

Xinyi Energy Holdings is not the only stock that insiders are buying. 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.