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Is Klingelnberg AG’s (VTX:KLIN) 14% Return On Capital Employed Good News?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll evaluate Klingelnberg AG (VTX:KLIN) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. To be precise, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is 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. 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 Klingelnberg:

0.14 = €23m ÷ (€250m - €80m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

Therefore, Klingelnberg has an ROCE of 14%.

View our latest analysis for Klingelnberg

Is Klingelnberg's ROCE Good?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. We can see Klingelnberg's ROCE is around the 14% average reported by the Machinery industry. Regardless of where Klingelnberg sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

The image below shows how Klingelnberg's ROCE compares to its industry, and you can click it to see more detail on its past growth.

SWX:KLIN Past Revenue and Net Income, November 30th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily 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. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Klingelnberg.

Do Klingelnberg's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Klingelnberg has total liabilities of €80m and total assets of €250m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 32% of its total assets. Klingelnberg has a middling amount of current liabilities, increasing its ROCE somewhat.

What We Can Learn From Klingelnberg's ROCE

Klingelnberg's ROCE does look good, but the level of current liabilities also contribute to that. There might be better investments than Klingelnberg 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.