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Is Healthcare Services Group, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:HCSG) 18% ROCE Any Good?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Healthcare Services Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HCSG) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding 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. 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?

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 Healthcare Services Group:

0.18 = US$102m ÷ (US$710m - US$151m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Healthcare Services Group has an ROCE of 18%.

See our latest analysis for Healthcare Services Group

Does Healthcare Services Group Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Healthcare Services Group's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 11% average in the Commercial Services industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Regardless of where Healthcare Services Group 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 Healthcare Services Group's past growth compares to other companies.

NasdaqGS:HCSG Past Revenue and Net Income, July 29th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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, 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 Healthcare Services Group.

Do Healthcare Services Group's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Liabilities, such as supplier bills and bank overdrafts, are referred to as current liabilities if they need to be paid within 12 months. 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Healthcare Services Group has total liabilities of US$151m and total assets of US$710m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 21% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Healthcare Services Group's ROCE

With that in mind, Healthcare Services Group's ROCE appears pretty good. There might be better investments than Healthcare Services Group 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.

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.