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Should You Like Fuling Global Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FORK) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Fuling Global Inc. (NASDAQ:FORK) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

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.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed 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 Fuling Global:

0.14 = US$10m ÷ (US$123m - US$47m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Fuling Global has an ROCE of 14%.

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Does Fuling Global Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Fuling Global's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Consumer Durables industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Independently of how Fuling Global compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Fuling Global's current ROCE of 14% is lower than 3 years ago, when the company reported a 21% ROCE. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

NasdaqCM:FORK Past Revenue and Net Income, May 23rd 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. You can check if Fuling Global has cyclical profits by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Fuling Global'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 counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Fuling Global has total assets of US$123m and current liabilities of US$47m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 39% of its total assets. With this level of current liabilities, Fuling Global's ROCE is boosted somewhat.

Our Take On Fuling Global's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. Fuling Global looks strong on this analysis, but there are plenty of other companies that could be a good opportunity . Here is a free list of companies growing earnings rapidly.

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.