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A Close Look At RPC, Inc.’s (NYSE:RES) 20% ROCE

Renee Allred

Today we are going to look at RPC, Inc. (NYSE:RES) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. 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 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since ‘No two businesses are exactly alike.’

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 RPC:

0.20 = US$207m ÷ (US$1.2b – US$143m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, RPC has an ROCE of 20%.

Check out our latest analysis for RPC

Does RPC Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, RPC’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 6.3% average in the Energy Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Independently of how RPC compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

RPC has an ROCE of 20%, but it didn’t have an ROCE 3 years ago, since it was unprofitable. That implies the business has been improving.

NYSE:RES Last Perf January 25th 19

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Remember that most companies like RPC are cyclical businesses. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do RPC’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

RPC has total assets of US$1.2b and current liabilities of US$143m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 12% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On RPC’s ROCE

With that in mind, RPC’s ROCE appears pretty good. But note: RPC may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.