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Are Crest Nicholson Holdings plc’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Crest Nicholson Holdings plc (LON:CRST) 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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 measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the 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.

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 Crest Nicholson Holdings:

0.14 = UK£181m ÷ (UK£1.6b - UK£361m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to April 2019.)

Therefore, Crest Nicholson Holdings has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Crest Nicholson Holdings

Is Crest Nicholson Holdings's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Crest Nicholson Holdings's ROCE appears to be around the 16% average of the Consumer Durables industry. Separate from Crest Nicholson Holdings's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Crest Nicholson Holdings's past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:CRST Past Revenue and Net Income, November 29th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. 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 Crest Nicholson Holdings.

How Crest Nicholson Holdings's Current Liabilities Impact Its 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.

Crest Nicholson Holdings has total assets of UK£1.6b and current liabilities of UK£361m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Crest Nicholson Holdings's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Crest Nicholson Holdings could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Crest Nicholson Holdings 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.

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

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.