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What Can We Learn From Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:OBCI) Investment Returns?

Chris Amalia

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Today we are going to look at Ocean Bio-Chem, Inc. (NASDAQ:OBCI) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First, we’ll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a measure of a company’s yearly pre-tax profit (its return), relative to the capital employed in the business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Ocean Bio-Chem:

0.13 = US$3.7m ÷ (US$41m – US$8.1m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2018.)

So, Ocean Bio-Chem has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Ocean Bio-Chem

Is Ocean Bio-Chem’s ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, Ocean Bio-Chem’s ROCE appears to be around the 14% average of the Household Products industry. Separate from Ocean Bio-Chem’s performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

NASDAQCM:OBCI Last Perf February 4th 19

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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 only a point-in-time measure. If Ocean Bio-Chem is cyclical, it could make sense to check out this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

How Ocean Bio-Chem’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 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.

Ocean Bio-Chem has total assets of US$41m and current liabilities of US$8.1m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 20% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Ocean Bio-Chem’s ROCE

Overall, Ocean Bio-Chem has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. But note: Ocean Bio-Chem 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).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

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.