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Is Sabre Corporation's (NASDAQ:SABR) Capital Allocation Ability Worth Your Time?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at Sabre Corporation ( NASDAQ:SABR ) 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, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.'

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 Sabre:

0.12 = US$574m ÷ (US$5.8b - US$1.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Sabre has an ROCE of 12%.

See our latest analysis for Sabre

Does Sabre Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Sabre's ROCE is around the 10% average reported by the IT industry. Regardless of where Sabre sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NasdaqGS:SABR Past Revenue and Net Income, April 2nd 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. 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 Sabre .

How Sabre'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. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Sabre has total liabilities of US$1.0b and total assets of US$5.8b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Sabre's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Sabre could be worth a closer look. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Sabre . 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.