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What Can We Make Of CorVel Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CRVL) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate CorVel Corporation (NASDAQ:CRVL) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. 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. 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.'

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 CorVel:

0.31 = US$62m ÷ (US$318m - US$117m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2019.)

So, CorVel has an ROCE of 31%.

Check out our latest analysis for CorVel

Is CorVel's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. CorVel's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 12% average in the Healthcare industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, CorVel's ROCE is currently very good.

The image below shows how CorVel's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

NasdaqGS:CRVL Past Revenue and Net Income, July 25th 2019

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. If CorVel is cyclical, it could make sense to check out 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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

CorVel has total assets of US$318m and current liabilities of US$117m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 37% of its total assets. CorVel has a medium level of current liabilities, boosting its ROCE somewhat.

The Bottom Line On CorVel's ROCE

Despite this, it reports a high ROCE, and may be worth investigating further. There might be better investments than CorVel 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.