Here's What Kellogg Company's (NYSE:K) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Kellogg Company (NYSE:K) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

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.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Kellogg:

0.13 = US$1.7b ÷ (US$18b - US$4.8b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

So, Kellogg has an ROCE of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for Kellogg

Is Kellogg's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Kellogg's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 8.9% average in the Food industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Kellogg compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Kellogg's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:K Past Revenue and Net Income March 29th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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 Kellogg.

Kellogg's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Kellogg has total assets of US$18b and current liabilities of US$4.8b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 27% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Kellogg's ROCE

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

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.