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Is Renishaw plc’s (LON:RSW) 22% ROCE Any Good?

Austin Wood

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Today we are going to look at Renishaw plc (LON:RSW) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First of all, we’ll work out how to calculate ROCE. Then we’ll compare its ROCE to similar companies. Finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities affect its ROCE.

What is Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)?

ROCE measures the amount of pre-tax profits a company can generate from the capital employed in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. 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?

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 Renishaw:

0.22 = UK£149m ÷ (UK£735m – UK£98m) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Renishaw has an ROCE of 22%.

View our latest analysis for Renishaw

Does Renishaw Have A Good ROCE?

ROCE is commonly used for comparing the performance of similar businesses. In our analysis, Renishaw’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 14% average in the Electronic industry. We would consider this a positive, as it suggests it is using capital more effectively than other similar companies. Regardless of the industry comparison, in absolute terms, Renishaw’s ROCE currently appears to be excellent.

LSE:RSW Last Perf February 13th 19

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and 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. 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 Renishaw.

Renishaw’s Current Liabilities And Their Impact On Its 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 counter this, investors can check if a company has high current liabilities relative to total assets.

Renishaw has total liabilities of UK£98m and total assets of UK£735m. As a result, its current liabilities are equal to approximately 13% of its total assets. This is quite a low level of current liabilities which would not greatly boost the already high ROCE.

Our Take On Renishaw’s ROCE

With low current liabilities and a high ROCE, Renishaw could be worthy of further investigation. You might be able to find a better buy than Renishaw. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

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

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.