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Examining Esprinet S.p.A.’s (BIT:PRT) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll evaluate Esprinet S.p.A. ( BIT:PRT ) 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.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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 Esprinet:

0.09 = €43m ÷ (€1.2b - €756m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, Esprinet has an ROCE of 9.0%.

View our latest analysis for Esprinet

Does Esprinet Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Esprinet's ROCE is meaningfully below the Electronic industry average of 12%. This performance could be negative if sustained, as it suggests the business may underperform its industry. Separate from how Esprinet stacks up against its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is mediocre; relative to the returns on government bonds. Readers may find more attractive investment prospects elsewhere.

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

BIT:PRT Past Revenue and Net Income, July 15th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. 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 Esprinet .

How Esprinet'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 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.

Esprinet has total assets of €1.2b and current liabilities of €756m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 61% of its total assets. Esprinet's current liabilities are fairly high, making its ROCE look better than otherwise.

The Bottom Line On Esprinet's ROCE

Despite this, the company also has a uninspiring ROCE, which is not an ideal combination in this analysis. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than Esprinet . So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.