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Evaluating Diageo plc’s (LON:DGE) Investments In Its Business

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Diageo plc (LON:DGE) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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.

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.

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

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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'.

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 Diageo:

0.17 = UK£4.1b ÷ (UK£31b - UK£7.0b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Diageo has an ROCE of 17%.

View our latest analysis for Diageo

Is Diageo's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. It appears that Diageo's ROCE is fairly close to the Beverage industry average of 15%. Independently of how Diageo compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Our data shows that Diageo currently has an ROCE of 17%, compared to its ROCE of 13% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Diageo's past growth compares to other companies.

LSE:DGE Past Revenue and Net Income, December 22nd 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. 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 Diageo.

How Diageo's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Diageo has total liabilities of UK£7.0b and total assets of UK£31b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Diageo's ROCE

With that in mind, Diageo's ROCE appears pretty good. Diageo looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.