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What Can We Make Of Impro Precision Industries Limited’s (HKG:1286) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Impro Precision Industries Limited (HKG:1286) 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.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. 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. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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'.

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 Impro Precision Industries:

0.15 = HK$697m ÷ (HK$6.0b - HK$1.3b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2019.)

Therefore, Impro Precision Industries has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for Impro Precision Industries

Is Impro Precision Industries's ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Impro Precision Industries's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Machinery industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Impro Precision Industries 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 Impro Precision Industries's past growth compares to other companies.

SEHK:1286 Past Revenue and Net Income, March 13th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is 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, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Impro Precision Industries's Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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.

Impro Precision Industries has current liabilities of HK$1.3b and total assets of HK$6.0b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Impro Precision Industries's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Impro Precision Industries could be worth a closer look. Impro Precision Industries 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.

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.