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Should You Like Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA’s (ETR:FRE) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St
·4-min read

Today we'll evaluate Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA (ETR:FRE) 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. 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. 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?

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 Fresenius SE KGaA:

0.086 = €4.6b ÷ (€67b - €14b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, Fresenius SE KGaA has an ROCE of 8.6%.

See our latest analysis for Fresenius SE KGaA

Does Fresenius SE KGaA Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Fresenius SE KGaA's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 6.6% average in the Healthcare industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Separate from Fresenius SE KGaA's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

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

XTRA:FRE Past Revenue and Net Income April 13th 2020
XTRA:FRE Past Revenue and Net Income April 13th 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. 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 Fresenius SE KGaA's 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Fresenius SE KGaA has current liabilities of €14b and total assets of €67b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 21% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Fresenius SE KGaA's ROCE

Overall, Fresenius SE KGaA has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Fresenius SE KGaA 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.