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Is There More To McPherson's Limited (ASX:MCP) Than Its 17% Returns On Capital?

Simply Wall St

Today we'll look at McPherson's Limited (ASX:MCP) and reflect on its potential as an investment. In particular, we'll consider its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), as that can give us insight into how profitably the company is able to employ capital in its business.

First up, we'll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. 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.

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

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. In general, businesses with a higher ROCE are usually better quality. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. 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 McPherson's:

0.17 = AU$21m ÷ (AU$165m - AU$43m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to June 2019.)

Therefore, McPherson's has an ROCE of 17%.

Check out our latest analysis for McPherson's

Is McPherson's's ROCE Good?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. Using our data, McPherson's's ROCE appears to be around the 17% average of the Personal Products industry. Separate from McPherson's's performance relative to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms looks satisfactory, and it may be worth researching in more depth.

You can see in the image below how McPherson's's ROCE compares to its industry. Click to see more on past growth.

ASX:MCP Past Revenue and Net Income, January 9th 2020

It is important to remember that ROCE shows past performance, and is not necessarily predictive. 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. Future performance is what matters, and you can see analyst predictions in our free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Do McPherson's's Current Liabilities Skew Its ROCE?

Short term (or current) liabilities, are things like supplier invoices, overdrafts, or tax bills that need to be paid within 12 months. 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.

McPherson's has total liabilities of AU$43m and total assets of AU$165m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 26% of its total assets. Low current liabilities are not boosting the ROCE too much.

The Bottom Line On McPherson's's ROCE

Overall, McPherson's has a decent ROCE and could be worthy of further research. There might be better investments than McPherson's 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.

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

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.

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. Thank you for reading.