U.S. Markets close in 6 hrs 29 mins

What Can We Learn From The Timken Company’s (NYSE:TKR) Investment Returns?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at The Timken Company (NYSE:TKR) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Second, we'll look at its ROCE compared to similar companies. Finally, we'll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

Return On Capital Employed (ROCE): What is it?

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. 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 Timken:

0.13 = US$510m ÷ (US$4.6b - US$705m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Timken has an ROCE of 13%.

See our latest analysis for Timken

Is Timken's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. We can see Timken's ROCE is around the 12% average reported by the Machinery industry. Regardless of where Timken sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

You can click on the image below to see (in greater detail) how Timken's past growth compares to other companies.

NYSE:TKR Past Revenue and Net Income, November 14th 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, 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 Timken.

How Timken's Current Liabilities Impact 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.

Timken has total liabilities of US$705m and total assets of US$4.6b. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 15% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On Timken's ROCE

This is good to see, and with a sound ROCE, Timken could be worth a closer look. There might be better investments than Timken 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.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. You probably do not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are 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.