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ROE vs ROCE – Know the difference between ROE & ROCE

The two financial ratios, Return of Equity (ROE) and Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) are the important measures to calculate the company's operational efficiency. They are used together to determine the future performance of a company. ROE shows what a company earns for the stakeholders and equity contributors. To put it in simple words, ROE considers the net return on equity. On the other hand, many analysts use ROCE over ROE. This is because ROCE considers return to all the stakeholders and not specifically to the equity contributors. Therefore, using both of them together can help in determining whether a company’s stock is worth investing or not.

Let us first learn how ROE and ROCE are calculated.

Return on Equity Formula

Return on Equity is calculated using the following formula;

ROE = Net Income ÷ Shareholders’ Equity

In the above formula net income includes the income that the company has earned over the year minus all the expenses and costs. The income includes payouts made to the preferred stockholders but does not include the dividends to the common shareholders.

Higher ROE is considered beneficial for the company as it suggests that the company is using the funds efficiently towards the growth of the business and generating higher profits.

Return on Capital Employed Formula

Return on capital employed formula is as follows;

ROCE = Capital Employed ÷ EBIT

ROCE measures how efficiently a company uses the capital to generate additional profits. ROCE is very helpful when used for comparing companies within the same sector.

Let us now learn about the key difference between ROCE and ROE.

Difference Between ROCE And ROE

  • The ROE only calculates the net return on the equity of a company i.e. the return on the residual equity capital. On the other hand, ROCE calculates the return to all the stakeholders of a company that includes both debt and equity. ROCE majorly focuses on the long term debt program of a company that has a residual value of more than 1 year.
  • ROE considers the impact of leverage to determine what would be left for the shareholders of the company after servicing the debt. Return on equity assumes interest as a cost to the company. While on the other hand, ROCE has a different approach. It considers interest as returns. It focuses on the operational performance of the company and evaluates the measures to service the company’s debt and equity.
  • The main focus of ROE is the equity shareholders of the company and this often leads to over glorification of the return on assets of the company. Return on capital employed measures the efficiency at which the assets of the company are used. Therefore, it is a better indicator of capital utilization because here the capital is sum of equity and debt, which is equal to the total of the long term assets of the company on a balance sheet.
  • Higher ROCE is always better than higher ROE. This is because the equity shareholders have direct benefits when the ROCE increases. A company with high ROCE will be able to raise debt at better terms as compared to the competitors which will lead to cost of capital and cost of equity of the company going down.

The above mentioned are a few differences between ROCE and ROE. Let us now learn when to use ROE and when to use ROCE.

When to use ROE and When to use ROCE?

Return on equity measures how a company manages its funds internally. Like for example a company that has ROE of 85% will be considered to be performing really well. Here the most sensible thing a company can do is to retain its holding rather than paying dividends to the shareholders. This is because the company is making very efficient use of the capital available to it. Such companies are also on the radar of big investors because companies with higher ROE have the potential to generate a huge surplus and deliver good performance in the future.

Return on capital employed has EBIT as the numerator which means that the operating profits arrive after the adjustment of depreciation. So this means that ROCE factors in all the fixed asset investment of the business but not the cost of finance. Unlike ROE, ROCE considers the debt holders and lenders to the company. Therefore, the ROCE calculates the extent up to which the operating profits are covering the long term capital of the company.

Using ROE and ROCE Together

While making an analysis of a company, it is always good to use ROCE and ROE together. By doing so you get better insights into the company. When a company has ROCE higher than its ROE, it suggests that the company is making good use of its debt to reduce its cost of capital. Another way to interpret it would be that the company’s debt holders are getting higher rewards than its equity holders. The great investor Warren Buffet adds to the debate on ROE vs. ROCE. He says that companies should have both ROCE and ROE above the levels of 20%. According to him, both of them should be closer to each other and the large gap between the two is not good for any company.

Both ROE and ROCE are important to measure the performance of the company. The investors should always seek investment in companies that have stable ROCE and ROE numbers. If you are a beginner in the stock market and want to invest after learning ROE vs. ROCE, you can contact IndiaNivesh Ltd. Our team of experts deploys technological tools to find right companies for investment and create value for you.

Disclaimer: "Investment in securities market and Mutual Funds are subject to market risks, read all the related documents carefully before investing."