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Should Flowtech Fluidpower plc’s (LON:FLO) Weak Investment Returns Worry You?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Flowtech Fluidpower plc (LON:FLO) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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 of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Flowtech Fluidpower:

0.098 = UK£10m ÷ (UK£146m - UK£41m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Flowtech Fluidpower has an ROCE of 9.8%.

View our latest analysis for Flowtech Fluidpower

Does Flowtech Fluidpower Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, Flowtech Fluidpower's ROCE appears to be significantly below the 13% average in the Trade Distributors industry. This performance is not ideal, as it suggests the company may not be deploying its capital as effectively as some competitors. Regardless of where Flowtech Fluidpower sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Flowtech Fluidpower's past growth compares to other companies.

AIM:FLO Past Revenue and Net Income, December 25th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Flowtech Fluidpower.

How Flowtech Fluidpower's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Flowtech Fluidpower has total assets of UK£146m and current liabilities of UK£41m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 28% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

What We Can Learn From Flowtech Fluidpower's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Flowtech Fluidpower could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Flowtech Fluidpower 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 like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.

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. Thank you for reading.