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What Can We Make Of Innospec Inc.’s (NASDAQ:IOSP) High Return On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Innospec Inc. (NASDAQ:IOSP) and reflect on its potential as an investment. Specifically, we're going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we'll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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 Innospec:

0.14 = US$165m ÷ (US$1.5b - US$304m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Innospec has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Innospec

Is Innospec's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that Innospec's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 10% average in the Chemicals industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Innospec's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

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

NasdaqGS:IOSP Past Revenue and Net Income, October 4th 2019
NasdaqGS:IOSP Past Revenue and Net Income, October 4th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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 only a point-in-time measure. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

How Innospec's Current Liabilities Impact 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. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Innospec has total liabilities of US$304m and total assets of US$1.5b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Innospec's ROCE

Overall, Innospec has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than Innospec 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.