Return on capital employed (ROCE) is the rate of return a business is making on the total capital employed in the business. Capital will include all sources of funding (shareholders funds + debt). To be consistent with this the return should be taken prior to interest (the return to lenders) and tax. It is therefore:

EBIT ÷ (shareholders funds + debt)
RoE is a similar measure which looks only at the returns to shareholders. return on equity (RoE) is normally higher than ROCE and is affected by the level of debt. Return on operating capital employed is a variant of ROCE that looks at the operations of the business only, ignoring the effects of cash holdings and provisions. It is therefore a better measure of how efficiently the actual business is run and is more comparable across companies.

Comparisons across companies using any measure of return on capital require that numbers for both profit and capital are comparable. This means looking closely at a range of accounting policies and adjusting where necessary. For example, differences in depreciation or revaluation policies that change the amount of capital employed.

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