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Here’s What Mastech Digital, Inc.’s (NYSEMKT:MHH) Return On Capital Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at Mastech Digital, Inc. (NYSEMKT:MHH) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. To be precise, we’ll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that will inform our view of the quality of the business.

Firstly, 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. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Ultimately, it is a useful but imperfect metric. 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?

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 Mastech Digital:

0.14 = US$10m ÷ (US$93m – US$18m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Mastech Digital has an ROCE of 14%.

Check out our latest analysis for Mastech Digital

Is Mastech Digital’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. Using our data, Mastech Digital’s ROCE appears to be around the 12% average of the Professional Services industry. Independently of how Mastech Digital compares to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears decent, and the company may be worthy of closer investigation.

Mastech Digital’s current ROCE of 14% is lower than its ROCE in the past, which was 21%, 3 years ago. So investors might consider if it has had issues recently.

AMEX:MHH Past Revenue and Net Income, March 19th 2019

Remember that this metric is backwards looking – it shows what has happened in the past, and does not accurately 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 only a point-in-time measure. How cyclical is Mastech Digital? You can see for yourself by looking at this free graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow.

Mastech Digital’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its ROCE

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. 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.

Mastech Digital has total assets of US$93m and current liabilities of US$18m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 19% of its total assets. A fairly low level of current liabilities is not influencing the ROCE too much.

Our Take On Mastech Digital’s ROCE

Overall, Mastech Digital has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. But note: Mastech Digital 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).

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

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.