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Here's What Honeywell International Inc.'s (NYSE:HON) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 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.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. Author Edwin Whiting says to be careful when comparing the ROCE of different businesses, since 'No two businesses are exactly alike.

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 Honeywell International:

0.19 = US$7.5b ÷ (US$60b - US$20b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Honeywell International has an ROCE of 19%.

View our latest analysis for Honeywell International

Is Honeywell International's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, we find that Honeywell International's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 13% average in the Industrials industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Honeywell International's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

You can see in the image below how Honeywell International's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:HON Past Revenue and Net Income, November 30th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the 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 Honeywell International.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Honeywell International's ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that 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.

Honeywell International has total liabilities of US$20b and total assets of US$60b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 33% of its total assets. Honeywell International has a medium level of current liabilities, which would boost the ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Honeywell International's ROCE

While its ROCE looks good, it's worth remembering that the current liabilities are making the business look better. There might be better investments than Honeywell International 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 are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

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.