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Should You Like Integrated Research Limited’s (ASX:IRI) High Return On Capital Employed?

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Integrated Research Limited (ASX:IRI) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. 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. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

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

ROCE is a measure of a company's yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.

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 Integrated Research:

0.36 = AU$28m ÷ (AU$114m - AU$36m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Integrated Research has an ROCE of 36%.

View our latest analysis for Integrated Research

Is Integrated Research's ROCE Good?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Integrated Research's ROCE appears to be substantially greater than the 17% average in the Software 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. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Integrated Research's ROCE is currently very good.

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

ASX:IRI Past Revenue and Net Income, September 25th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking - it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately predict the future. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Integrated Research.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Integrated Research's 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 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Integrated Research has total assets of AU$114m and current liabilities of AU$36m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Integrated Research's ROCE is boosted somewhat by its middling amount of current liabilities.

What We Can Learn From Integrated Research's ROCE

Still, it has a high ROCE, and may be an interesting prospect for further research. Integrated Research shapes up well under this analysis, but it is far from the only business delivering excellent numbers . You might also want to check this free collection of companies delivering excellent earnings growth.

If you like to buy stocks alongside management, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

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.