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Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) : Full Form, Formula, Importance & Examples

Last Updated : 12 Jan, 2024
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What is Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)?

Return on capital employed stands as a pivotal financial ratio, serving to gauge a company’s profitability and the effectiveness with which it utilizes its capital resources. The calculation involves dividing net operating profit, or earnings before interest and taxes, by the total capital employed, which encompasses both equity and debt. By offering a snapshot of a company’s financial performance, ROCE proves to be a valuable metric for assessing its efficiency in generating profits from the capital invested. A higher ROCE signifies heightened efficiency in profit generation relative to the capital employed. This ratio is just one of several profitability metrics that financial managers, stakeholders, and potential investors may deploy during the comprehensive analysis of a company for investment purposes.

Geeky Takeaway:

  • A key financial ratio that measures a company’s profitability and how effectively it utilizes its capital resources.
  • One of several profitability metrics analyzed by financial managers, stakeholders, and potential investors when comprehensively evaluating a company for investment purposes.
  • Serves as a valuable indicator for assessing a business’s ability to convert capital invested into net operating income.

ROCE Formula

ROCE = EBIT / Capital employed


  1. EBIT represents earnings before interest and taxes
  2. Capital employed denotes the difference between total assets and total current liabilities

How to Calculate ROCE?

For instance, let’s consider the following financial information for a manufacturing company: Let the Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) be ₹10,00,000, total assets be ₹60,00,000, and the total current liabilities be ₹30,00,000.

We can calculate the capital employed using the following formula:

Capital employed = Total Assets – Total Current Liabilities

= ₹60,00,000 – ₹30,00,000 = ₹30,00,000

Let’s calculate ROCE:

Return on Capital Employed = EBIT / Capital employed

= ₹10,00,000 / ₹30,00,000 = 0.3333

Interpretation of ROCE

1. Profitability Assessment: ROCE not only gauges a company’s profitability but does so by evaluating the relationship between its earnings before interest and taxes and the capital employed. This unique perspective provides a nuanced understanding of how effectively a company converts its operational earnings into returns on invested capital.

2. Efficiency Analysis: In assessing efficiency, ROCE serves as a comprehensive metric, offering insights into how adeptly a company deploys its capital to yield profits. An elevated ROCE suggests that the company efficiently utilizes its financial resources, translating into optimal returns. This efficiency measure is crucial for investors seeking companies that demonstrate a strategic and effective use of their capital.

3. Comparative Analysis: ROCE’s utility extends to facilitating comparative analyses across companies within the same industry or even those operating in different sectors. By providing a standardized metric for evaluating financial performance, companies with higher ROCEs are generally regarded as more attractive investment options. This comparative aspect aids investors in making informed choices about where to allocate their capital.

4. Long-Term Perspective: The long-term perspective offered by ROCE is a distinctive feature, as it factors in the profitability generated over an extended period. By considering this extended timeframe and correlating it with the capital consumed, ROCE helps investors gain insights into a company’s sustained performance. This aspect is particularly valuable for those interested in the enduring profitability and efficiency of an investment.

5. Impact on Investment Decisions: For investors, ROCE is a pivotal factor influencing investment decisions. A higher ROCE implies that the company generates more significant returns for every unit of capital employed. This attractiveness makes it a compelling consideration for investors seeking companies with a proven track record of delivering favorable returns.

Significance of ROCE

1. Efficiency Indicator: ROCE acts as a vital metric in gauging a company’s efficiency by evaluating how effectively it utilizes its capital to generate profits. A higher ROCE signifies a more efficient deployment of capital, an attribute highly desirable for investors and stakeholders seeking optimal returns on their investments.

2. Long-Term Perspective: Besides providing an immediate snapshot, ROCE offers a distinctive long-term perspective on a company’s profitability and efficiency. By considering earnings generated over an extended period and correlating them with the capital employed, ROCE enables a comprehensive assessment of a company’s sustained performance and strategic use of resources.

3. Comparative Analysis: ROCE’s versatility extends to facilitating meaningful comparisons across firms of varying sizes and operating in different industries. This feature proves invaluable for investors and analysts, enabling them to assess a company’s investment prospects and profitability within a broader market context.

4. Management Tool: Within a company, ROCE functions as a valuable management tool, aiding in the assessment of different business units’ performance. It assists in pinpointing areas where capital may be tied up inefficiently, providing management with actionable insights for better decision-making. This internal application enhances operational efficiency and financial management.

5. Investor Confidence: A consistently high ROCE serves as a robust indicator that the company consistently generates attractive returns on its capital. It not only instills confidence in existing investors but can also attract additional capital from potential investors seeking opportunities with a proven track record of financial success. The stability and attractiveness of a high ROCE contribute significantly to bolstering investor confidence in the company’s financial health and potential for sustained growth.

Advantages of ROCE

1. Efficiency Indicator: ROCE serves as a critical efficiency indicator, reflecting how well a company leverages its capital to generate profits. A higher ROCE implies that the company is utilizing its financial resources effectively, which is appealing to investors and stakeholders. This metric helps in assessing the company’s ability to generate returns on the funds invested and provides a clear picture of its operational efficiency.

2. Long-Term Perspective: ROCE offers a valuable long-term perspective by considering profitability over an extended period. This aspect is crucial for investors looking beyond short-term fluctuations and seeking sustainable performance. By relating profits to the capital employed, ROCE provides insights into the company’s ability to maintain profitability over time, fostering investor confidence in its strategic and operational stability.

3. Comparative Analysis: One of the significant advantages of ROCE is its ability to facilitate meaningful comparisons across companies in different industries and of varying sizes. This comparative analysis helps investors and analysts gauge a company’s performance relative to its peers. By transcending industry boundaries, ROCE becomes a versatile tool for evaluating investment prospects and profitability within a broader market context, aiding in better decision-making.

4. Monetary Returns: ROCE’s inclusivity of both equity and debt allows it to capture the monetary returns on the entire capital employed. This comprehensive approach provides a holistic view of a company’s financial performance. Investors can assess not only the returns generated for shareholders but also the efficiency of utilizing borrowed capital. This comprehensive measure helps in forming a well-rounded perspective on the company’s overall financial health.

Disadvantages of ROCE

1. Risk of Accounting Manipulation: ROCE is not immune to the risk of accounting manipulation, which could lead to inflated returns. An example of this manipulation is the misclassification of long-term liabilities as short-term liabilities. Such practices can distort the accuracy of ROCE, creating a false impression of a company’s financial health. Investors should remain vigilant and employ additional financial analysis tools to mitigate the potential impact of such manipulations.

2. Impact of Capital Structure: ROCE is intricately tied to a company’s capital structure, introducing complexities in cross-company comparisons. Companies with differing capital structures may experience varying levels of financial leverage, influencing ROCE metrics. Fluctuations in capital structure, which can occur for various reasons, make it challenging to assess and compare companies effectively based solely on their ROCE figures.

3. Limited Comparability: ROCE faces limitations in direct comparability across sectors. These challenges arise from variations in capital intensity and diverse business structures among different industries. Sectors with inherently different capital requirements may exhibit dissimilar ROCE values, making cross-sector comparisons less straightforward and potentially misleading for investors.

4. Historical Focus: A notable drawback of ROCE lies in its reliance on historical financial data. Since ROCE is calculated based on past performance, it may not accurately reflect a company’s prospects. Investors should exercise caution, recognizing that changes in market dynamics, industry trends, or company strategies may not be adequately captured by this historical perspective.

How Companies can Improve ROCE?

1. Streamlining Operations: Companies have the opportunity to enhance their ROCE by streamlining and optimizing operations. It involves implementing cost-effective measures, improving productivity, and ultimately increasing profitability. Strategies such as lean practices, automation, and continuous process improvements can contribute to a more efficient use of capital, positively impacting ROCE.

2. Optimizing Capital Allocation: Optimizing capital allocation is crucial for improving ROCE. Companies can achieve this by strategically investing in projects that promise higher returns while divesting from those that do not align with the desired profitability goals. This process requires a comprehensive evaluation of the risk and return associated with each investment opportunity, enabling companies to allocate capital more effectively.

3. Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: To maintain and improve ROCE, companies should engage in continuous monitoring and evaluation of their operations. This proactive approach helps identify areas where capital might be tied up inefficiently, enabling companies to make informed decisions for better capital deployment efficiency. Regular assessments empower organizations to adapt swiftly to market changes and evolving business conditions.

4. Investing in Human Capital: Investing in employee training and development programs is a strategic move to enhance skills and knowledge within the workforce. A skilled workforce not only increases productivity but also contributes to better decision-making. The overall improvement in human capital can positively influence ROCE by fostering an environment of innovation, efficiency, and adaptability.

5. Mitigating Risks for ROCE Protection: Companies can safeguard their ROCE by implementing effective risk management strategies. Detecting and managing risks that could potentially impact profitability and capital efficiency is crucial. By understanding and mitigating risks, companies can minimize negative impacts on ROCE and ensure more stable and sustainable financial performance.

ROCE and Business Cycles

Business cycles refer to the regular yet unpredictable periods of expansion and contraction in economic indicators like production, employment, income, and revenue. ROCE is closely linked to fluctuations during various economic cycles, reflecting the dynamic nature of business operations. ROCE varies with business cycles, as the determinants of profitability and efficient use of assets are strongly impacted by prevailing market conditions. The business cycle can affect ROCE in the following ways:

1. Expansionary Phase: During economic expansion, businesses often experience a surge in demand, escalating sales, and favorable market conditions. ROCE tends to increase in this phase as companies generate higher revenues, achieve enhanced profitability, and allocate capital effectively. Factors such as improved operating leverage and economies of scale contribute to the uptick in ROCE, aligning with the rapid growth witnessed during economic expansions.

2. Peak Phase: As the economy reaches its peak, growth rates may start to decline, and competition intensifies. Despite businesses continuing to generate strong profits, ROCE may face challenges if growth becomes sluggish. Sustaining high levels of efficiency and profitability becomes more difficult, resulting in a stabilization or slight decline in ROCE during this phase.

3. Contraction Phase: During economic downturns or recessions, businesses encounter reduced demand, lower sales, and economic challenges. Rising cost pressures and declining revenues impact profit margins, leading to a decline in ROCE. Businesses strive to maintain profitability and capital efficiency, contributing to the decrease in ROCE during periods of economic contraction.

4. Recovery Phase: As the economy emerges from a recession, businesses may witness a gradual increase in demand and sales. Well-managed companies that control expenses and adapt to market conditions may experience improved profitability. During this recovery phase, ROCE has the potential to rebound as the economy gains momentum and businesses regain their footing.

5. Early Growth Phase: In the early stages of an economic recovery, businesses may see a resurgence in growth potential and investment opportunities. ROCE can fluctuate significantly based on the success of new initiatives and business expansion. Initially, due to higher capital costs, ROCE may be lower, but effective investments can lead to a gradual increase over time as businesses capitalize on evolving market trends.

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) vs. Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)


Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)


Uses capital employed: Total assets minus all liabilities

Uses invested capital: Total capital, including both equity and debt financing


Considers total capital employed, i.e., debt, equity, and short-term liabilities

More refined, focuses on actively circulating capital in the business


EBIT divided by capital employed

NOPAT divided by invested capital


A higher ROCE indicates efficient capital utilization and higher returns for every rupee of capital employed

A higher ROIC signifies efficient use of both equity and debt financing, generating superior returns for every rupee invested

Examples of ROCE

Q1. Consider that Company A has a capital employed (total assets minus current liabilities) of Rs. 1000 crore and generates a profit of Rs. 200 crore in a year. Calculate ROCE.


The ROCE for the company would be calculated as follows:

ROCE = EBIT / Capital Employed

ROCE = 200/1000 = 20%

It means the company is generating a 20% return on every rupee invested in the business.

Q2. Consider two companies operating in the same industry: Company X and Company Y. The provided table presents a hypothetical analysis of return on capital employed (ROCE) for both entities.


Company X

Company Y







Total Assets



Current Liabilities



Capital Employed



Return on Capital Employed



Write a comparative analysis on both companies.


Despite Company Y being a considerably larger business with higher revenue, EBIT, and total assets compared to Company X, the ROCE metric provides a different perspective. Company X demonstrates a more efficient generation of profit from its capital, as evidenced by its ROCE of 43.51%, equivalent to ₹0.44 per capital rupee. In contrast, Company Y achieves a ROCE of 15.47%, equivalent to ₹0.15 per capital rupee. This analysis illustrates that, despite the scale differences, Company X is more effective in utilizing its capital to generate returns compared to Company Y.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How is capital employed defined, and why is it relevant to businesses?


Capital employed denotes a firm’s total assets less its current liabilities. Businesses use their capital for day-to-day operations, investing in new opportunities, and facilitating growth. Examining capital employed is crucial, as it is utilized in conjunction with other financial metrics to assess the return on a company’s assets and evaluate management’s effectiveness in employing capital.

2. What makes ROCE valuable?


Some analysts prefer ROCE over ROE and ROA because ROCE takes into account both debt and equity financing. Investors who use ROCE consider it a better indicator of a company’s long-term performance and profitability. By incorporating both debt and equity, ROCE provides a more comprehensive view.

3. Is there an industry standard for a good ROCE value?


While there is no specific industry standard, a higher ROCE generally indicates a more efficient company in terms of capital employment. However, it’s important to note that a lower number may be influenced by a company holding a significant amount of cash, as cash is included in total assets. Boosted levels of cash might sometimes skew this metric.

4. Is there a specific percentage that signifies a good ROCE?


A higher ROCE ratio is considered better as it reflects greater profitability. A ROCE of at least 20% is often seen as a positive sign that a company is in a good financial position. However, it’s crucial to avoid comparing ROCE ratios across different industries for an accurate assessment, emphasizing the importance of conducting an apples-to-apples comparison within the same industry.

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