Should Zee Media Corporation Limited’s (NSE:ZEEMEDIA) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Zee Media Corporation Limited (NSE:ZEEMEDIA) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.'

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 Zee Media:

0.11 = ₹900m ÷ (₹11b - ₹3.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Zee Media has an ROCE of 11%.

Check out our latest analysis for Zee Media

Is Zee Media's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, Zee Media's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 16% average reported by the Media industry. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Zee Media's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. It is possible that there are more rewarding investments out there.

As we can see, Zee Media currently has an ROCE of 11% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 1.2%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NSEI:ZEEMEDIA Past Revenue and Net Income, April 16th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Zee Media.

How Zee Media'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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Zee Media has total assets of ₹11b and current liabilities of ₹3.0b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 27% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Zee Media's ROCE

If Zee Media continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. 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.

I will like Zee Media better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.