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Appulse Corporation (CVE:APL) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Appulse Corporation (CVE:APL) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets - Current Liabilities)

Or for Appulse:

0.13 = CA$649k ÷ (CA$9.9m - CA$4.7m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Appulse has an ROCE of 13%.

Check out our latest analysis for Appulse

Does Appulse Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In our analysis, Appulse's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.7% average in the Machinery industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Appulse sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

Our data shows that Appulse currently has an ROCE of 13%, compared to its ROCE of 7.7% 3 years ago. This makes us wonder if the company is improving. The image below shows how Appulse's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

TSXV:APL Past Revenue and Net Income, January 4th 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. How cyclical is Appulse? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Appulse's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Appulse has total assets of CA$9.9m and current liabilities of CA$4.7m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 48% of its total assets. Appulse has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Appulse's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. There might be better investments than Appulse out there, but you will have to work hard to find them . These promising businesses with rapidly growing earnings might be right up your alley.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.