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IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ:IPGP) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at IPG Photonics Corporation (NASDAQ:IPGP) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested 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'.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

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 IPG Photonics:

0.22 = US$517m ÷ (US$2.6b - US$246m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, IPG Photonics has an ROCE of 22%.

Check out our latest analysis for IPG Photonics

Does IPG Photonics Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, we find that IPG Photonics's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 11% average in the Electronic industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Setting aside the comparison to its industry for a moment, IPG Photonics's ROCE in absolute terms currently looks quite high.

NasdaqGS:IPGP Past Revenue and Net Income, April 16th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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 only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for IPG Photonics.

How IPG Photonics'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 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.

IPG Photonics has total assets of US$2.6b and current liabilities of US$246m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 9.5% of its total assets. Minimal current liabilities are not distorting IPG Photonics's impressive ROCE.

The Bottom Line On IPG Photonics's ROCE

This should mark the company as worthy of further investigation. There might be better investments than IPG Photonics 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.