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Is GAIL (India) Limited (NSE:GAIL) Investing Your Capital Efficiently?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at GAIL (India) Limited (NSE:GAIL) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, 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 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. 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 GAIL (India):

0.13 = ₹65b ÷ (₹613b – ₹112b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2018.)

So, GAIL (India) has an ROCE of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for GAIL (India)

Is GAIL (India)’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, GAIL (India)’s ROCE appears to be significantly below the 18% average in the Gas Utilities industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Aside from the industry comparison, GAIL (India)’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

As we can see, GAIL (India) currently has an ROCE of 13% compared to its ROCE 3 years ago, which was 7.3%. This makes us think the business might be improving.

NSEI:GAIL Past Revenue and Net Income, March 3rd 2019

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. 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 GAIL (India).

Do GAIL (India)’s Current Liabilities Skew 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.

GAIL (India) has total assets of ₹613b and current liabilities of ₹112b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 18% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On GAIL (India)’s ROCE

If GAIL (India) continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than GAIL (India). So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.