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Do Insteel Industries, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:IIIN) Returns On Capital Employed Make The Cut?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Insteel Industries, Inc. (NASDAQ:IIIN) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. Specifically, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), since that will give us an insight into how efficiently the business can generate profits from the capital it requires.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

What is 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. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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.'

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 Insteel Industries:

0.15 = US$40m ÷ (US$311m - US$48m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Insteel Industries has an ROCE of 15%.

See our latest analysis for Insteel Industries

Does Insteel Industries Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Insteel Industries's ROCE is around the 15% average reported by the Building industry. Regardless of where Insteel Industries sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

NasdaqGS:IIIN Past Revenue and Net Income, April 18th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Insteel Industries'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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Insteel Industries has total assets of US$311m and current liabilities of US$48m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 15% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Insteel Industries's ROCE

With that in mind, Insteel Industries's ROCE appears pretty good. Insteel 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.

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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.