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Are Barnes Group Inc.’s Returns On Capital Worth Investigating?

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Simply Wall St
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Today we'll look at Barnes Group Inc. (NYSE:B) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

The formula for calculating the return on capital employed is:

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

Or for Barnes Group:

0.098 = US$232m ÷ (US$2.7b - US$347m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Barnes Group has an ROCE of 9.8%.

See our latest analysis for Barnes Group

Is Barnes Group's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Barnes Group's ROCE is around the 11% average reported by the Machinery industry. Independently of how Barnes Group compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

You can see in the image below how Barnes Group's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:B Past Revenue and Net Income, January 2nd 2020
NYSE:B Past Revenue and Net Income, January 2nd 2020

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Barnes Group.

Barnes Group's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way ROCE is calculated, a high level of current liabilities makes a company look as though it has less capital employed, and thus can (sometimes unfairly) boost the ROCE. To check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Barnes Group has total liabilities of US$347m and total assets of US$2.7b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 13% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

What We Can Learn From Barnes Group's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Barnes Group could be worth a closer look. Barnes Group shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.