The Sage Group plc (LON:SGE) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Sage Group plc (LON:SGE) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Sage Group:

0.20 = UK£445m ÷ (UK£3.4b - UK£1.1b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Sage Group has an ROCE of 20%.

View our latest analysis for Sage Group

Does Sage Group Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, we find that Sage Group's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 9.5% average in the Software industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, Sage Group's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

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

LSE:SGE Past Revenue and Net Income March 31st 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 Sage Group.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Sage Group's 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Sage Group has current liabilities of UK£1.1b and total assets of UK£3.4b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 34% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts Sage Group's ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On Sage Group's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Sage Group 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.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.