U.S. Markets closed

Kforce Inc. (NASDAQ:KFRC) Is Employing Capital Very Effectively

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Kforce Inc. (NASDAQ:KFRC) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Then we'll determine how its current liabilities are affecting its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the 'return' (pre-tax profit) a company generates from capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. 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.

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 Kforce:

0.25 = US$83m ÷ (US$426m - US$90m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, Kforce has an ROCE of 25%.

See our latest analysis for Kforce

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. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Kforce's ROCE is currently very good.

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

NasdaqGS:KFRC Past Revenue and Net Income, October 29th 2019

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. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Kforce.

Do Kforce's Current Liabilities Skew 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 liabilities of US$90m and total assets of US$426m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 21% of its total assets. A minimal amount of current liabilities limits the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Kforce's ROCE

, Kforce 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.

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.

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.