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What Can We Learn From Twin Disc, Incorporated’s (NASDAQ:TWIN) Investment Returns?

Simply Wall St

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Today we'll look at Twin Disc, Incorporated (NASDAQ:TWIN) 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.

First, we'll go over how we calculate ROCE. Next, we'll compare it to others in its industry. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on 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. In brief, it is a useful tool, but it is not without drawbacks. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that 'one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar'.

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 Twin Disc:

0.10 = US$28m ÷ (US$351m - US$77m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

Therefore, Twin Disc has an ROCE of 10%.

See our latest analysis for Twin Disc

Does Twin Disc Have A Good ROCE?

One way to assess ROCE is to compare similar companies. Using our data, Twin Disc's ROCE appears to be around the 11% average of the Machinery industry. Aside from the industry comparison, Twin Disc's ROCE is mediocre in absolute terms, considering the risk of investing in stocks versus the safety of a bank account. Investors may wish to consider higher-performing investments.

Twin Disc delivered an ROCE of 10%, which is better than 3 years ago, as was making losses back then. That implies the business has been improving.

NasdaqGS:TWIN Past Revenue and Net Income, May 6th 2019

When considering ROCE, bear in mind that it reflects the past and does not necessarily predict the future. ROCE can be misleading for companies in cyclical industries, with returns looking impressive during the boom times, but very weak during the busts. This is because ROCE only looks at one year, instead of considering returns across a whole cycle. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Twin Disc.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Twin Disc's ROCE?

Current liabilities include invoices, such as supplier payments, short-term debt, or a tax bill, 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.

Twin Disc has total liabilities of US$77m and total assets of US$351m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 22% of its total assets. This is a modest level of current liabilities, which would only have a small effect on ROCE.

Our Take On Twin Disc's ROCE

That said, Twin Disc's ROCE is mediocre, there may be more attractive investments around. Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking at a few good candidates. So take a peek at this free list of companies with modest (or no) debt, trading on a P/E below 20.

If you are like me, then you will 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.