Capital employed $5 million
Annual profit after tax $1 million
Return on capital employed 20%
The profit may be expressed before or after tax.
Capital employed is the net amount invested in the business by the owners and is taken from the Balance Sheet.
Many people (including Warren Buffett) consider this the most important ratio of all.
It is useful to compare the result with a return that can be obtained outside the business.
If a bank is paying a higher rate, perhaps the business should be closed down and the money put in the bank.
Note that there are 2 ways of improving the return. In the example above:
- the return on capital employed would be 25% if the profit was increased to $1.25 million.
- it would also be 25% if the capital employed was reduced to $4 million.