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Are Brady Corporation’s (NYSE:BRC) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Brady Corporation (NYSE:BRC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Brady:

0.17 = US$163m ÷ (US$1.2b - US$256m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to October 2019.)

Therefore, Brady has an ROCE of 17%.

View our latest analysis for Brady

Does Brady Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Brady's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 9.4% average in the Commercial Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how Brady 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 Brady's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:BRC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 22nd 2020
NYSE:BRC Past Revenue and Net Income, January 22nd 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Brady.

How Brady's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Brady has total liabilities of US$256m and total assets of US$1.2b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 21% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Brady's ROCE

Overall, Brady has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Brady looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

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.