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Don’t Buy Werner Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:WERN) Until You Understand Its ROCE

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Werner Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:WERN) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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.

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. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

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 Werner Enterprises:

0.12 = US$215m ÷ (US$2.1b – US$310m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Werner Enterprises has an ROCE of 12%.

View our latest analysis for Werner Enterprises

Does Werner Enterprises Have A Good ROCE?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Werner Enterprises’s ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Transportation industry. Independently of how Werner Enterprises compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

NasdaqGS:WERN Past Revenue and Net Income, March 18th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do Werner Enterprises’s Current Liabilities Skew 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Werner Enterprises has total assets of US$2.1b and current liabilities of US$310m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Werner Enterprises’s ROCE

With that in mind, Werner Enterprises’s ROCE appears pretty good. But note: Werner Enterprises 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).

I will like Werner Enterprises better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider 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.