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Why CNX Resources Corporation’s (NYSE:CNX) Use Of Investor Capital Doesn’t Look Great

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at CNX Resources Corporation (NYSE:CNX) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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 CNX Resources:

0.039 = US$316m ÷ (US$8.8b - US$588m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

Therefore, CNX Resources has an ROCE of 3.9%.

Check out our latest analysis for CNX Resources

Does CNX Resources Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. In this analysis, CNX Resources's ROCE appears meaningfully below the 7.4% average reported by the Oil and Gas industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Putting aside CNX Resources's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms is poor - considering the risk of owning stocks compared to government bonds. It is likely that there are more attractive prospects out there.

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

NYSE:CNX Past Revenue and Net Income, July 12th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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 only a point-in-time measure. We note CNX Resources could be considered a cyclical business. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for CNX Resources.

CNX Resources's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

CNX Resources has total assets of US$8.8b and current liabilities of US$588m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 6.7% of its total assets. CNX Resources has a low level of current liabilities, which have a negligible impact on its already low ROCE.

What We Can Learn From CNX Resources's ROCE

Nonetheless, there may be better places to invest your capital. Of course, you might also be able to find a better stock than CNX Resources. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

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

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.