U.S. Markets closed
  • S&P Futures

    4,059.50
    -86.75 (-2.09%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    33,521.00
    -662.00 (-1.94%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    13,000.50
    -345.50 (-2.59%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    2,134.20
    -69.10 (-3.14%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    65.82
    +0.54 (+0.83%)
     
  • Gold

    1,819.90
    -16.20 (-0.88%)
     
  • Silver

    27.10
    -0.56 (-2.03%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2080
    -0.0072 (-0.5919%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.6950
    +0.0710 (+4.37%)
     
  • Vix

    28.25
    +6.41 (+29.35%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.4057
    -0.0087 (-0.6171%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    109.6200
    +1.0000 (+0.9206%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    49,783.53
    -7,427.90 (-12.98%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,468.19
    -95.64 (-6.12%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,004.63
    +56.64 (+0.82%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    28,147.51
    -461.08 (-1.61%)
     

Proto Labs, Inc. (NYSE:PRLB) Earns A Nice Return On Capital Employed

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Simply Wall St
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Today we'll evaluate Proto Labs, Inc. (NYSE:PRLB) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment idea. 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 of all, we'll work out how to 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.

Understanding 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. 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'.

So, How Do We Calculate ROCE?

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 Proto Labs:

0.13 = US$80m ÷ (US$655m - US$55m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2019.)

So, Proto Labs has an ROCE of 13%.

View our latest analysis for Proto Labs

Does Proto Labs Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Proto Labs's ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 11% average in the Machinery industry. I think that's good to see, since it implies the company is better than other companies at making the most of its capital. Regardless of where Proto Labs sits next to its industry, its ROCE in absolute terms appears satisfactory, and this company could be worth a closer look.

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

NYSE:PRLB Past Revenue and Net Income, February 5th 2020
NYSE:PRLB Past Revenue and Net Income, February 5th 2020

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. 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. Since the future is so important for investors, you should check out our free report on analyst forecasts for Proto Labs.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Proto Labs's 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 check the impact of this, we calculate if a company has high current liabilities relative to its total assets.

Proto Labs has total assets of US$655m and current liabilities of US$55m. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 8.4% of its total assets. With low current liabilities, Proto Labs's decent ROCE looks that much more respectable.

The Bottom Line On Proto Labs's ROCE

This is good to see, and while better prospects may exist, Proto Labs seems worth researching further. Proto Labs 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.

I will like Proto Labs better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

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.