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Why We Like MS Industrie AG’s (ETR:MSAG) 14% Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St
·4-min read

Today we are going to look at MS Industrie AG (ETR:MSAG) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

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. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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.

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 MS Industrie:

0.14 = €19m ÷ (€207m - €73m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, MS Industrie has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for MS Industrie

Does MS Industrie Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. MS Industrie's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 8.3% average in the Machinery industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how MS Industrie compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

In our analysis, MS Industrie's ROCE appears to be 14%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 5.5%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. The image below shows how MS Industrie's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

XTRA:MSAG Past Revenue and Net Income May 10th 2020
XTRA:MSAG Past Revenue and Net Income May 10th 2020

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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for MS Industrie.

How MS Industrie'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.

MS Industrie has current liabilities of €73m and total assets of €207m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 35% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, MS Industrie's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

Our Take On MS Industrie's ROCE

MS Industrie's ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. MS Industrie shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

I will like MS Industrie 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.