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CorVel Corporation (NASDAQ:CRVL) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

Heidi Stubbs

Today we’ll evaluate CorVel Corporation (NASDAQ:CRVL) 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, 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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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.’

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 CorVel:

0.28 = US$48m ÷ (US$310m – US$116m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, CorVel has an ROCE of 28%.

See our latest analysis for CorVel

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Does CorVel Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that CorVel’s ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Healthcare industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, CorVel’s ROCE is currently very good.

NASDAQGS:CRVL Last Perf January 29th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. How cyclical is CorVel? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How CorVel’s Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

CorVel has total assets of US$310m and current liabilities of US$116m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 37% of its total assets. A medium level of current liabilities boosts CorVel’s ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From CorVel’s ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.