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Examining Perficient, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:PRFT) Weak Return On Capital Employed

Gerald Huddleston

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Today we are going to look at Perficient, Inc. (NASDAQ:PRFT) 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 of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Second, we’ll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed 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. 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’.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Perficient:

0.074 = US$34m ÷ (US$549m – US$55m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Perficient has an ROCE of 7.4%.

See our latest analysis for Perficient

Does Perficient Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. In this analysis, Perficient’s ROCE appears meaningfully below the 10% average reported by the IT industry. This could be seen as a negative, as it suggests some competitors may be employing their capital more efficiently. Setting aside the industry comparison for now, Perficient’s ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

NasdaqGS:PRFT Past Revenue and Net Income, February 20th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. 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. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Perficient.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Perficient’s 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Perficient has total assets of US$549m and current liabilities of US$55m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 10% of its total assets. It is good to see a restrained amount of current liabilities, as this limits the effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Perficient’s ROCE

If Perficient continues to earn an uninspiring ROCE, there may be better places to invest. Of course you might be able to find a better stock than Perficient. So you may wish to see this free collection of other companies that have grown earnings strongly.

I will like Perficient 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.