What is Return on Invested Capital?

This article was written by Willie Keng and was first published in Value Invest Asia on 17 July 2014.

In a previous article, Stanley explained the Return on Equity (ROE). While the ROE focuses on the equity component of a company’s capital investments, the Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) measures return earned on investments funded by equity and debt.
It shows how much profit a company generates for every dollar of investments it makes in the business. ROIC is expressed as a percentage and shown in the formula below:

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) = After-tax Operating Income / (Book Value of Invested Capital)
where Invested Capital = Fixed Assets + Current Assets – Current Liabilities – Cash

We can calculate the ROIC using an example from Banyan Tree Holdings’ (SGX: B58) financial statement:

Annual Report (SGD ’000)Fiscal Year 2012
Property, Plant and Equipment729,558
Current Assets349,304
Current Liabilities231,875
Invested Capital726,163
Fiscal Year 2013
Operating Income51,641
Tax Rate42%*
After-Tax Operating Income29,951
Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)4.1%

*The high tax rate was due to the different geographic segments the company operates in

Based on the calculations above, we note that Banyan Tree generated an ROIC of 4.1% for FY2013. Do note that either an average of the past 2 years or the prior year’s book value of invested capital should be used.

Analyzing a firm’s ROIC is complementary to the ROE because it gives investors an idea whether a company has efficiently utilized both equity and debt financing. A company that generates excess returns over its cost of capital is earning is expected to trade at a premium over a firm which does not earn similar excess returns. An investor can measure how the company has fared over the past 5 to 10 years in its capital utilization and can also compare the ROIC between peer companies to have a better understanding of how each company utilized their capital investments.

Value in Action
ROIC is a good complement to the ROE. The ROIC measures an after-tax operating income of a company given its capital investments in its fixed assets and non-cash working capital (current assets – current liabilities – cash). A company which earns a return above its cost of capital is expected to trade at a premium over a firm which does not earn that same excess returns.

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