Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

Definition of 'Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)'


A financial ratio that measures a company's profitability and the efficiency with which its capital is employed. Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is calculated as:

ROCE = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) / Capital Employed

“Capital Employed” as shown in the denominator is the sum of shareholders' equity and debt liabilities; it can be simplified as (Total Assets – Current Liabilities). Instead of using capital employed at an arbitrary point in time, analysts and investors often calculate ROCE based on “Average Capital Employed,” which takes the average of opening and closing capital employed for the time period.

A higher ROCE indicates more efficient use of capital. ROCE should be higher than the company’s capital cost; otherwise it indicates that the company is not employing its capital effectively and is not generating shareholder value.

Investopedia explains 'Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)'


ROCE is a useful metric for comparing profitability across companies based on the amount of capital they use. Consider two companies, Alpha and Beta, which operate in the same industry sector. Alpha has EBIT of $5 million on sales of $100 million in a given year, while Beta has EBIT of $7.5 million on sales of $100 million in the same year. On the face, it may appear that Beta should be the superior investment, since it has an EBIT margin of 7.5% compared with 5% for Alpha. But before making an investment decision, look at the capital employed by both companies. Let’s assume that Alpha has total capital of $25 million and Beta has total capital of $50 million. In this case, Alpha’s ROCE of 20% is superior to Beta’s ROCE of 15%, which means that Alpha does a better job of deploying its capital than Beta.

ROCE is especially useful when comparing the performance of companies in capital-intensive sectors such as utilities and telecoms. This is because unlike return on equity (ROE), which only analyzes profitability related to a company’s common equity, ROCE considers debt and other liabilities as well. This provides a better indication of financial performance for companies with significant debt.

Adjustments may sometimes be required to get a truer depiction of ROCE. A company may occasionally have an inordinate amount of cash on hand, but since such cash is not actively employed in the business, it may need to be subtracted from the “Capital Employed” figure to get a more accurate measure of ROCE.

For a company, the ROCE trend over the years is also an important indicator of performance. In general, investors tend to favor companies with stable and rising ROCE numbers over companies where ROCE is volatile and bounces around from one year to the next.

Read more on how ROCE can be an effective analysis tool - Spotting profitability with ROCE.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. National Best Bid and Offer - NBBO

    A term applying to the SEC requirement that brokers must guarantee customers the best available ask price when they buy securities and the best available bid price when they sell securities.
  2. Maintenance Margin

    The minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin account. In the context of the NYSE and FINRA, after an investor has bought securities on margin, the minimum required level of margin is 25% of the total market value of the securities in the margin account.
  3. Leased Bank Guarantee

    A bank guarantee that is leased to a third party for a specific fee. The issuing bank will conduct due diligence on the creditworthiness of the customer looking to secure a bank guarantee, then lease a guarantee to that customer for a set amount of money and over a set period of time, typically less than two years.
  4. Degree Of Financial Leverage - DFL

    A ratio that measures the sensitivity of a company’s earnings per share (EPS) to fluctuations in its operating income, as a result of changes in its capital structure. Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) measures the percentage change in EPS for a unit change in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).
  5. Jeff Bezos

    Self-made billionaire Jeff Bezos is famous for founding online retail giant Amazon.com.
  6. Re-fracking

    Re-fracking is the practice of returning to older wells that had been fracked in the recent past to capitalize on newer, more effective extraction technology. Re-fracking can be effective on especially tight oil deposits – where the shale products low yields – to extend their productivity.
Trading Center