In search of a competitive advantage


Alvin Lau
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This article appeared in the Globe and Mail, December 20th, 2013

What are we looking for?

Growing Canadian companies with a history of high returns on invested capital (ROIC) that are also trading at relatively inexpensive valuations. Why? Because the increase in the economic value of a business depends on a combination of its ROIC and growth.

ROIC is a company’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) divided by its invested capital (working capital plus fixed assets). It is a measure of a company’s efficiency in allocating its capital to profitable investments. We use EBIT rather than net income in our ROIC calculation, as it allows us to put companies with different levels of debt and tax regimes on an equal footing.

The longer a business can sustain a ROIC greater than its cost of capital, and the greater the spread between the two percentages, the more value it will create. A consistently high ROIC is usually indicative of a sustainable competitive advantage, which is what Longview looks for in the companies it owns.

Read the rest over at the Globe & Mail.

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