ROE vs ROCE difference

ROE vs ROCE – What’s the difference?

Understanding the difference between ROE vs ROCE: As investors, the financial ratios have become an essential part of our decision-making process. This is because ratios measure and give us a more comprehensive picture of companies’ operational efficiency, liquidity, stability, and profitability in comparison to the raw financial data from various statements. Today we look at two profitability ratios namely the ROE and the ROCE with an attempt to better understand them

power of ratios

Return on Equity (ROE)

The Return on Equity ratio enables us to measure a company’s performance by dividing the annual net returns by the value of the shareholders’ equity. The ROE ratio helps us to judge the effectiveness of a company’s management to use the shareholder contribution available in order to generate profits

— ROE Formula

Return on equity (ROE) can be calculated as Net Income of a company divided by its Shareholder Equity.

ROE formula

Net Income: The Net Income considered here is the income remaining after the taxes, interest, and dividend to preference shareholders is paid out.

Shareholder Equity: Assets – Liabilities

ROE brings together two financial statements. It includes the Net income from the income statement and the shareholders’ equity from the Balance Sheet.

— Example to understand ROE

Take two companies A and B in the ice cream business. Both companies have made a profit of 20 lacs for the financial year 2019-20. But how are we to compare the greater of the two in this scenario. After taking a  closer look we find that the investments received by the 2 companies are: Company A – 1 crore and Company B – 2 crores. 

The ROE computed for company A is 0.2 and for company, B is 0.1. 

This puts the returns from the two companies in a whole new perspective. Despite both of the companies reporting the same profits, the management of Company A is more efficient in converting the money invested into profits. Hence, it would be wise to invest in Company A as management is more efficient in generating profits.

When the ROE’s are compared over a period for a company it enables us to judge how the management had evolved in allocating the shareholders’ equity appropriately. An increasing ROE will mean that the management has been improving its efficiency of investing the shareholders’ capital over the years in order to generate higher profits.

On the other hand, a decreasing ROE represents a deficiency in the management’s ability in using the resources and poor decisions made in investing capital over the years.

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)

The Return on Capital Employed ratio shows us the effectiveness of a company’s allocation of capital. The ROCE ratio is acquired by dividing a company’s operating income by the capital employed.

— ROCE Formula 

Return on capital employed can be calculated by dividing EBIT (Operating Income) by its Capital Employed.

ROCE formula Operating Income: The operating income is what we get after the total sales is deducted by the operating expenses like wages, depreciation, and cost of goods sold. In other words, it is the Earnings before interest and tax charged (EBIT).

Capital Employed: Assets – Current Liabilities or Equity + Debt.

— Example to understand ROCE

Let us take a similar example as that taken in the case of ROE. The same companies A and B are in the ice cream business. They have earned a profit of 20 lacs and have an investment as follows: Company A -1 crore and Company B – 2 crores. But in addition to this, the debt taken by the companies is Company A – 3 crores in loans and Company B – 1 crore in loans.

The ROCE computed for Company A is 0.05 and Company B is 0.067. 

This provides a better perspective as to how the two companies have employed the capital available with them in order to earn profits. This shows that an investment in company B would be favorable.

When it comes to ROCE, as the ratio considers capital as a whole it is also important to take into account the cost of capital when making judgments. When the Return on Capital (ROCE) is higher than the Cost of that Capital it would make a favorable investment. But a case where the Cost of Capital is higher than the return on that capital (ROCE) is a red flag. Here the existing shareholders would choose to exit and potential investors would prefer to stay away. 

ROE vs ROCE: Key Differences

Income considerationThe income considered here is the Profit after all the Interest and Taxes are charged. 

In a situation where the government has increased the taxes, the ROE will take into effect its impacts.
The Income taken into consideration here is the earnings before the taxes and interests are charged. 

Changes in Interest and taxes do not impact the ROCE. The ROCE is only impacted by the changes in operating expenses like wages etc.
CapitalThe ROE considers only the shareholder capital employed.The ROCE considers the total capital employed (inc.debt)  by the company.
Ratio Depicts?Effective management of shareholders' capital. It shows the efficiency of a business operation. 
Stakeholder SignificanceThe ROE is of more significance to the shareholders as it shows them the returns the company provides for every Rs.1 they invest. It is of greater significance to shareholders as it shows them what is left for them after the debt is serviced.The ROCE is of significance to both the shareholders and the lenders. This is because the ROCE also shows the effectiveness of the total capital employed in the company.

Using ROE and ROCE – The right way?

A shareholder may also use the ROE and the ROCE ratios in comparison to each other. When the ROCE ratio is greater than the ROE it signifies that a major portion of the profits earned is diverted to service the debt of the company. This would not be taken positively by shareholders. However, it is also important to consider that a company with a high ROCE ratio is able to raise debt at attractive terms. The high ROCE improves the valuations of a company. This is because it shows that the company can easily raise debt for its future operations.

Both the ratios even when used individually cannot be used as a comparative across various industries. The averages ROE for the computer services industry is 17.29%. Whereas the average ROE for a Biotech company is 3.83%. Hence they can only be judged effectively only when they are compared with companies in the same industry.

Also read: #19 Most Important Financial Ratios for Investors

What Warren Buffet has to say about ROE and ROCE?What Warren Buffet has to say about ROE and ROCE?

In the case of judging companies on the basis of ROE and ROCE, Warren Buffet prefers companies that have ROE and ROCE which are close to each other. According to him, a good company should not have a gap of more than 100-200 basis points. A situation where the ROE and ROCE are close implies that both the equity shareholders and the lenders are taken care of. And at the same time not compromised at the cost of the other.