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Kforce Inc. (NASDAQ:KFRC) Earns Among The Best Returns In Its Industry

Vernon Smith

Today we’ll look at Kforce Inc. (NASDAQ:KFRC) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 Kforce:

0.26 = US$69m ÷ (US$392m – US$95m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Kforce has an ROCE of 26%.

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Is Kforce’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Kforce’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 12% average in the Professional Services industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Kforce’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.


NasdaqGS:KFRC Last Perf January 15th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. 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 Kforce.

Kforce’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills 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.

Kforce has total assets of US$392m and current liabilities of US$95m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 24% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won’t have much impact on the already great ROCE.

The Bottom Line On Kforce’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Kforce could be worthy of further investigation. But note: Kforce may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

I will like Kforce better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.