Capital Employed Definition, Formula, and Sample Calculation

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. The invested capital is generally a more detailed analysis of a firm’s overall capital. Return on capital employed is also commonly referred to as the primary ratio because it indicates the profits earned on corporate resources. To deliver a higher return, a public company must raise more money in a cost-effective way, which puts it in a good position to see its share price increase—ROCE measures a company’s ability to do this.

  1. A current liability is the portion of debt that must be paid back within one year.
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  3. This means it does not include the debt vs. equity source of capital because it used earnings before interest and taxes, which is the earnings from operations.
  4. Although capital employed can be defined in different contexts, it generally refers to the capital utilized by the company to generate profits.

It provides valuable insights into business profitability and the effectiveness of capital allocation which are crucial to both management and investors. Remember, a higher ROCE ratio indicates a more efficient use of capital in generating profits, and thus, is preferred from an investor’s standpoint. However, a lower ROCE compared to industry peers doesn’t necessarily imply inefficiency, as it could be indicative of a company in its growth phase, investing heavily in its capital. The calculation of return on capital employed is a two-step process, starting with the calculation of net operating profit after taxes (NOPAT).

ROCE, shorthand for “Return on Capital Employed,” is a profitability ratio comparing a profit metric to the amount of capital employed. The Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) measures the efficiency of a company at deploying capital to generate sustainable, long-term profits. This takes into consideration a company’s tax obligations, but ROCE usually does not. Asset optimization also involves optimizing asset utilization to generate maximum returns. For example, companies can renegotiate leases, sell underutilized or non-performing assets, renegotiating leases and contracts, and exploring shared asset models. ROCE is improved when fewer capital is deployed; by avoiding unnecessary carrying costs or long-term investment expenses, companies can improve the returns it incurs.

Generally, an acceptable ROCE exceeds a company’s weighted average cost of capital (WACC). The WACC is a measure that factors in the costs of the company’s sources of capital such as equity and debt financing. If a company’s ROCE is not regularly above the weighted average cost of its capital, it’s wasting capital by continuing to operate. So a firm’s cost of capital acts as a hurdle rate for the business, a minimum level of profitability that should be achieved. The return on capital employed shows how much operating income is generated for each dollar of capital invested.

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Consequently, a business boasting high ROCE can frequently leverage this to draw in more financial backing. Capital employed is a more comprehensive number than invested capital; capital employed looks at the total equity and debt financing minus short-term liabilities. Invested capital aims to calculate the return of a business in relation to the capital the business is currently using. Of the three companies, Apple Inc. has the highest return on capital employed of 29.9%. A return on capital employed of 29.9% means that for every dollar invested in capital employed for 12 months ended September 30, 2021, the company made almost 30 cents in profits. Investors are interested in the ratio to see how efficiently a company uses its capital employed as well as its long-term financing strategies.

Operating profit is one of the key components of the ROCE equation, serving as the numerator. It represents the earnings from the core business operations, excluding the effects of taxes and interest. While it might seem straightforward, the choice of operating profit can significantly alter the final figure of the ROCE.

This can lead to misconceptions as short-term capital, such as working capital, is more liquid and less risky compared to long-term capital like property or equipment. Therefore, an equal return on these different types of capital does not equate to the same level of performance. In sum, when applied as a comparative tool, ROCE facilitates a comprehensive understanding of company and industry performance, along with giving investors greater insight into changes over time.

This article explores why and how to calculate ROCE, as well as which businesses and circumstances the measure is most suitable for, and how to improve it. If there’s significant inflation between the time of purchasing the capital and the time of calculating the ROCE, the capital employed component of the ROCE will be understated. This could result in an overstated ROCE figure, giving a misleading impression of the firm’s effectiveness in using its capital. Return on Capital Employed, or ROCE, is an invaluable tool for carrying out comparative analysis across several domains.

It is designed to show how efficiently a company makes use of its available capital by looking at the net profit generated in relation to every dollar of capital utilized by the company. Return on capital employed (ROCE) is a good baseline measure of a company’s performance. ROCE is a financial ratio that shows if a company is doing a good job of generating profits from its capital.

Interpretation of Return on Capital Employed

Lower ROCE may mean the company could be risking its investments or not using its capital efficiently. This analysis aids companies in gauging their performance and devising their future game plans. ROCE can be calculated by dividing earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) by capital employed. It can also be calculated by dividing EBIT by the difference between total assets and current liabilities. ROCE is calculated by dividing the company’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) by the capital employed. Capital employed can be calculated by adding shareholder’s equity and total debt, including both short-term and long-term debts.

Therefore, the ROCE approach gives a fuller picture of the underlying efficiency of companies, especially those with substantial debt. Return on capital employed (ROCE) is a popular financial metric that helps investors, analysts and managers assess the overall profitability of a business. This ratio shows how efficiently a company is using its capital to generate profits, allowing one to compare companies. Return on capital employed is calculated by dividing net operating profit, or earnings before interest and taxes, by capital employed. Return on capital employed can be especially useful when comparing the performance of companies in capital-intensive sectors, such as utilities and telecoms.

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In order to generate value for shareholders, a business should be looking to generate a ROCE that is consistently more than its weighted average cost of capital (WACC). In other words, it needs to make a bigger return on the money spent funding the business than the average cost of that funding (from both debt and equity). Here, investors and analysts must assess not only how effectively the company is using shareholders’ equity but also its borrowed capital.

A higher ROCE indicates more effective use of capital, while a lower ROCE can be a sign of poor company management or simply a bad business. When evaluating a company, consider other profitability ratios, such as return on equity and return on assets alongside ROCE to get a fuller return on capital employed meaning picture of the company’s financial efficiency. There are also many downsides to ROCE, each of which users must be aware of when analyzing ROCE calculations. Due to differences in capital intensity and business structures, ROCE may not be directly comparable across sectors.

Limitations of the Return on Capital Employed Ratio

ROE can be used to evaluate virtually any company, while ROCE should be restricted to analyzing non-finance companies. It should go without saying that continuous monitoring and evaluation should be conducted to track progress and identify areas for improvement. Companies should tailor their strategies based on their specific industry, competitive landscape, and internal capabilities to achieve sustainable improvements in ROCE. As companies enact strategies to improve ROCE, it must be aware of unrelated repercussions that may have negative impacts elsewhere. Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism. She has worked in multiple cities covering breaking news, politics, education, and more.

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Some analysts prefer ROCE over return on equity and return on assets because the return on capital considers both debt and equity financing. These investors believe the return on capital is a better gauge for the performance or profitability of a company over a more extended period of time. Think of the return on capital employed (ROCE) as the Clark Kent of financial ratios. One of several different profitability ratios used for this purpose, ROCE can show how companies use their capital efficiently by examining the net profit it earns in relation to the capital it uses. First, find the net value of all fixed assets on the company’s balance sheet. Examples of current liabilities listed on a company’s balance sheet include accounts payable, short-term debt, and dividends payable.

When analyzing profitability efficiency in terms of capital, both ROIC and ROCE can be used. Both metrics are similar in that they provide a measure of profitability per total capital of the firm. In general, both the ROIC and ROCE should be higher than a company’s weighted average cost of capital (WACC) in order for the company to be profitable in the long term. ROCE also serves as a useful management tool for assessing the performance of different business units or projects within a company. It helps identify areas where capital may be tied up inefficiently and allows for better decision-making regarding resource allocation and investment strategies. More specifically, ROCE provides a long-term perspective on a company’s profitability and efficiency.

A higher sector-wide ROCE usually points to an industry’s robust health, signifying that firms within are, on average, producing good returns. Moreover, businesses with high ROCE rates are usually better positioned for expansions or for weathering potential downturns, making them more attractive to stakeholders. In addition to company comparisons, businesses can also use ROCE to evaluate in-house projects or individual business units. “Expert verified” means that our Financial Review Board thoroughly evaluated the article for accuracy and clarity. The Review Board comprises a panel of financial experts whose objective is to ensure that our content is always objective and balanced. The measure should be tracked on at least an annual basis and plotted on a trend line, to spot long-term changes in corporate performance.