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Does U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc. (NYSE:USPH) Create Value For Shareholders?

Simply Wall St

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Today we are going to look at U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc. (NYSE:USPH) 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. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the 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.'

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 U.S. Physical Therapy:

0.15 = US$60m ÷ (US$443m - US$42m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, U.S. Physical Therapy has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for U.S. Physical Therapy

Is U.S. Physical Therapy's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see U.S. Physical Therapy's ROCE is around the 13% average reported by the Healthcare industry. Separate from U.S. Physical Therapy's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NYSE:USPH Past Revenue and Net Income, April 8th 2019

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. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do U.S. Physical Therapy's Current Liabilities Skew 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 the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

U.S. Physical Therapy has total assets of US$443m and current liabilities of US$42m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 9.5% of its total assets. With low current liabilities, U.S. Physical Therapy's decent ROCE looks that much more respectable.

The Bottom Line On U.S. Physical Therapy's ROCE

If it is able to keep this up, U.S. Physical Therapy could be attractive. But note: U.S. Physical Therapy 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).

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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.