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Are Luxfer Holdings PLC’s (NYSE:LXFR) High Returns Really That Great?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at Luxfer Holdings PLC (NYSE:LXFR) and reflect on its potential as an investment. 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. Then we'll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Last but not least, we'll look at what impact its current liabilities have on its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. Generally speaking a higher ROCE is better. 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?

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 Luxfer Holdings:

0.17 = US$57m ÷ (US$412m - US$82m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

So, Luxfer Holdings has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for Luxfer Holdings

Does Luxfer Holdings Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE can be useful when making comparisons, such as between similar companies. Using our data, we find that Luxfer Holdings's ROCE is meaningfully better than the 12% average in the Machinery industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Separate from Luxfer Holdings's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

In our analysis, Luxfer Holdings's ROCE appears to be 17%, compared to 3 years ago, when its ROCE was 10%. This makes us think about whether the company has been reinvesting shrewdly. You can see in the image below how Luxfer Holdings's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

NYSE:LXFR Past Revenue and Net Income, September 16th 2019

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. ROCE can be deceptive for cyclical businesses, as returns can look incredible in boom times, and terribly low in downturns. ROCE is only a point-in-time measure. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Luxfer Holdings.

How Luxfer Holdings's Current Liabilities Impact Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. The ROCE equation subtracts current liabilities from capital employed, so a company with a lot of current liabilities appears to have less capital employed, and a higher ROCE than otherwise. To counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Luxfer Holdings has total liabilities of US$82m and total assets of US$412m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 20% of its total assets. Current liabilities are minimal, limiting the impact on ROCE.

Our Take On Luxfer Holdings's ROCE

Overall, Luxfer Holdings has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. Luxfer Holdings 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.

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

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.